A pow wow is a gathering of members of one or more native American tribes. At such gatherings, traditional activities including dance, drumming, singing, traditional arts and crafts, and foods are shared among participants and made available for purchase and educational purposes to non-tribal visitors.
Dances accompanied by drumming and singing/chanting played an important role in the oral history of many North American tribes. Pow wows preserve these traditions for future generations and for the understanding of outside cultures. Contemporary pow wows often include competitions for dancers with monetary prizes awarded for best dancers and most authentic apparel.
Attached is a link to a 2012 calendar of pow wows around the United States.
The most common form of public ceremony engaged in by the American Indian today is the powwow. Tribes located in the Great Plains of the United States were not influenced by white culture until much later than those in the east. As a result, Plains Indian tribes kept their traditional ceremonial practices longer than tribes to the east, holding onto them in an attempt to avoid losing their heritage altogether. Forced to live on the reservation by the early 1900s, Plains Indian tribes began to draw from their historical dances and ceremonial practices to create the powwow. A powwow can be defined as “a festival held and sponsored by one or more tribes or communities”. Yet the powwow is more than just a festival, it is a culture. At the beginning of the twentieth century, sources and practices became the tools most often used by American Indians to connect ceremonial practices of the past with their cultural present and future, thus the powwow.