They travel all year-round to different states and even out of the country to perform in pow wows. They are entertainers—singers, musicians, dancers, drum groups and storytellers—skilled to draw and please a crowd.
Some of them make a living competing in hefty prize money offerings. Some of them are in the background—planning, organizing and looking for sponsors to support their gatherings and causes. Many are volunteers, veterans and elders, who are committed to keeping Native traditions and culture alive.
Whatever role they have in these Native gatherings, they all share a common thread. They come to connect with family and friends in a homecoming that keeps them grounded in their culture and heritage.
That said, ICTMN asked seven pow wow regulars what their New Year’s wishes are for 2014.
Below is what we gathered (they weren’t wishful thinking).
1. Joseph Firecrow, award-winning flutist
“That all the young people treat each other with peace in mind, to be humble and respectful and always be kind. This would make the pow wow experience what it was meant to be!”
2. T.P. Hokshila, drum group
“We want it to be like it was before—all about family and friends. It is not so much about the drums, but for everyone to be a family again; to come together for the right reasons.”
3. MaryAnne Ijames, head lady
“My New Year’s wish is that pow wows prosper and teach the young ones all of what we know of Native life.”
4. Mike Ijames, head man
“That all of the young ones learn the Native ways.”
5. Sybille Hummingbird WhiteWolf, award-winning flutist
“To educate all and focus on the future generation…Since most of the pow wow’s in Florida are run by non-Natives, and they are making money from our history, donations should be made to Looks for Buffalo Foundation and Conscious Alliance.”
6. Larry Yazzie, World Champion fancy dancer, arena director
“I wish that pow wows would get more mainstream media exposure so the outside world gets to see what pow wow life is about and become educated. After all, pow wows are open to the public.”
7. Helen Wolfe, co-organizer American Indian Movement (AIM) of Michigan pow wow
“I would like to see more New Year’s Eve sobriety pow wows.
It would be appropriate for both Natives and non-Natives. Everybody would benefit because it will reduce alcohol-related accidents and people would be somewhere where there is no alcohol. The last New Year’s sobriety pow wow celebration I know of was held seven to eight years ago.”