June 4, 2018
I love powwows. I love everything about them. The dancing… the drums….the food… and most of all the people. I load up my camp chair and cameras and make sure I’ve got enough cash for fry bread and Indian tacos and a raffle or two. Then I’m ready to settle in for three days of dancing, drumming and contests. It’s powwow time in Wind River Country!
There are three big powwows in Wind River Country. The Eastern Shoshone Indian Days (June 22-24), Ethete Celebration (July 27-29) and the Northern Arapaho powwow (August 31- September 1-2). These powwows draw top dancers and drum groups from around the US and Canada.
There are several styles of dancing and each one has elements of grace, strength, coordination and beauty. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the Men’s Fancy dance. The colorful regalia combined with the quick and complex movements highlight the dancer’s athleticism and always leaves me cheering at the end.
The Women’s Jingle dress dance absolutely mesmerizes me with the sound of thousands of jingles creating a musical happy sound. And I can’t take my eyes off their footwork, beautiful zigzag steps that make their jingles sway as they dance.
My friend Candace is a beautiful Fancy Shawl dancer. The light catches her colorful shawl as she spins and twirls around on her toes and kicks high in the air. It’s no wonder this dance is said to imitate the movements of the butterfly. I’m in awe every time.
There’s also Traditional Men and Women’s dancing, Men’s Grass Dance and Tiny Tots.
So here’s to another powwow season and after a long day I will happily put myself to bed with the sound of drums in my ears, colors swirling behind my eyes and fry bread in my belly.
Can’t attend a powwow? See the Northern Arapaho Song & Dance at the Wind River Hotel and Casino in Riverton every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and the Eagle Spirit Dancers in Lander at the Museum of the American West Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m.