Since I moved to South Dakota, I have gone, in six years, to my fair share of powwows. Powwow is a time for socializing, seeing friends, making new ones, celebrating culture, and dancing. Go to one when you can. You will learn so much of the beauty of our Native cultures and realize that school taught you nothing of the beautiful people who love amongst us with a rich and beautiful culture that is ages old and full of wisdom. It is time for us to understand one another, even if we cannot completely heal the wounds of the past–a little understanding, a wish to sincerely learn, goes a long way. Everyone is welcome at a powwow.
There are many beautiful dancers, and tributes to our Native American veterans. I recently went to the Arlee, MT powwow, and in the below photos you will see something of the spirit of these events.
People camp out in tipis and tents, and the smell of delicious hot frybread and Indian tacos are in the air. It’s great for the kids as well. They love to dress up and dance and take pride in their culture.
I shall let Native author Sherman Alexie finish this powwow treatise. The poem is about forgiveness, but when to forgive? How do we bridge the years of abuse by the US government? How do we reconcile?
The Powwow at the End of the World
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shallafter an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Damand topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgiveand so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive damdownriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of youthat I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters findtheir way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacificand causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgiveand so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmonwaiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shallafter that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbiaand then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactorsof Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shallafter that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane Riveras it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrivesin the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall afterthat salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throwsa lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the firewhich will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am toldby many of you that I must forgive and so I shallafter we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmonwho has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours;the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by manyof you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancingwith my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.