The purpose of this library guide is to help you get started with your research assignment.
You might be researching Indigenous dances of your ancestors and/or of the Americas, or the culture of a particular Indigenous people and region of the Americas or the Caribbean that is of interest to you.
The hope is that the books emphasized in this library guide represent the perspective and voices of indigenous experts. If you have a book title suggestion, please reach out to us!
Description: Powwows are large social gatherings of Native Americans who follow traditional dances started centuries ago by their ancestors, and which continually evolve to include contemporary aspects. These events of drum music, dancing, singing, artistry and food, are attended by Natives and non-Natives, all of whom join in the dancing and take advantage of the opportunity to see old friends and teach the traditional ways to a younger generation. During the National Powwow, the audience see dancers in full regalia compete in several dance categories, including Men and Women's Golden Age (ages 50 and older); Men's Fancy Dance, Grass and Traditional (Northern and Southern); Women's Jingle Dress, Fancy Shawl, and Traditional (Northern and Southern); Teens (13-17); Juniors (6-12) and Tiny Tots (ages 5 and younger). The drum groups are the heart of all powwows and provide the pulsating and thunderous beats that accompany a dancer's every movement. The powwow is led by three "host drums" that showcase three distinct styles of singing (Northern, Southern and contemporary) and represent the best examples of each style. The drum contest highlights groups of 10 to 12 members each, and they sing traditional family songs that are passed down orally from one generation to the next. The National Museum of the American Indian sponsored the National Powwow in 2002, 2005, and 2007 as a way of presenting to the public the diversity and social traditions of contemporary Native cultures.
Quote and Image source and attribution: 2007 Powwow (2550201143).jpg. Creator/Photographer: Ken Rahaim. Smithsonian Institution from United States, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons
"The ritual ceremony of the Voladores (‘flying men’) is a fertility dance performed by several ethnic groups in Mexico and Central America, especially the Totonac people in the eastern state of Veracruz, to express respect for and harmony with the natural and spiritual worlds. During the ceremony, four young men climb a wooden pole eighteen to forty metres high, freshly cut from the forest with the forgiveness of the mountain god. A fifth man, the Caporal, stands on a platform atop the pole, takes up his flute and small drum and plays songs dedicated to the sun, the four winds and each of the cardinal directions. After this invocation, the others fling themselves off the platform ‘into the void’. Tied to the platform with long ropes, they hang from it as it spins, twirling to mimic the motions of flight and gradually lowering themselves to the ground," - UNESCO. 2009.
Quote and Image source and attribution:
1. Ritual de los voladores de Papantla.jpg. (2020, October 28). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 16:58, August 20, 2021 Tomas de Jesús Pacheco, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
2. UNESCO. 2009. Ritual ceremony of the Voladores/Ritual ceremony of the Voladores. https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/ritual-ceremony-of-the-voladores-00175