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Celebrations of Traditions Pow Wow

United San Antonio Pow Wow invites you to an Official Fiesta San Antonio Event, the Celebrations of Traditions Pow Wow on April 22nd from 11am to 4pm.

 

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Honoring Dancers

As the United San Antonio Pow Wow is not a contest Pow Wow, the best and most skilled dancers are not formally recognized and honored for their abilities on the dance floor. However, individual participants and spectators may recognize and honor their favorite dancers during the exhibition dances held throughout the Pow Wow. 

Exhibition dances (Tiny Tots, Fancy Shawl, Traditional, etc.) are announced by the Master of Ceremonies. During these exhibitions, individuals may be honor dancers by placing money at the dancer's feet during the exhibition song. The dancer will then dance in place and allows others to honor the dancer with additional monetary gifts. When the song is completed, the dancer will stand in place until the money is picked up (usually by the arena director) and given to the honoree. 

Spectators are encouraged to honor and recognize dancers throughout the Pow Wow.

The Drum

The Drum is the most important part of any arena. 

This includes both the instrument as well as the singers. The Host Drum or Head Drum is placed in the middle of the arena, a place of respect. All other drums are allowed, at the discretion of the Arena Director, to set up around the outside of the dance floor.

Without the drum, there can be no Pow Wow. The Drum is the heartbeat of the People and Mother Earth. Not only does the Drum consist of the instrument, but also it consists of the singers as well. 

There are two styles of the Drum, the Northern Drum and the Southern Drum. The Northern Drum singers sing at a high pitch. The drumsticks are more thickly' cushioned which muffles the drumbeat so that the higher-pitched singing dominates. The Southern Drum singers sing at a much lower pitch. The drumsticks are less cushioned so that the drumbeat is sharper sounding. 

You may hear the term "push-ups," this refers to the number of times a song will be sung through. The Drum is not only used at Pow Wows but, also at weddings, funerals, to honor veterans, for prayer songs and other special occasions. Listen to the beat of the Drum and the beat of your heart as they beat in unison to bring peace and harmony to us all.

Pow Wow Eitquette

The Grand Entry signifies the beginning of the powwow. The dancers enter the arena single file in a clockwise direction following the pattern of the sun. The Eagle Staff and other flag bearers lead the procession and no dancer may enter until those respected leaders have entered. 

At the center of the arena is the drum. The host drum offers a special song for the Grand Entry procession. Different styles of dance are readily apparent in this opening ceremony, as the dancers enter as groups according to the style of dancing in which they will be competing. The dancers create a circle on the perimeter of the dance arena, representing the sacred circle. After all dancers have entered the arena, the appropriate flag songs are sung. 

The Flag Song to Indians holds the same regard as the national anthem does to other Americans.

We ask that everyone stand and remove their hats in respect for this ceremony.

A few rules of etiquette to follow during the Pow Wow:

  • Do enjoy yourself as you watch the dancers.
  • Do feel free to join in the inter-tribal dances by invitation of the Master of Ceremonies. 
  • Do be respectful of American Indian traditions and stand when asked to. Remember to remove hats as a sign of respect.
  • Do ask permission before taking pictures of dancers.
  • Do visit with craftsmen and women and ask questions about their art and skill.
  • Do not take pictures during the Flag Song, Honor Dances, Competition, or if the arena director asks for all cameras to be shut down. 
  • Occasionally, there is a special or sacred moment in which photography is not allowed. Please respect our traditions. 
  • Please try and pick up your own litter and throw it in the trash. 
  • Most of all have fun. We work had to make this an enjoyable time for you. Make new friends and renew old friendships. 
  • Do not touch the dancers or their regalia. Not only are the feathers fragile, but are also considered sacred objects. Some of the outfits or ornaments signify special events or honors in a person's life, special religious traditions, or symbols rooted in legend. A respected family member may have made these items or are heirlooms passed down. Many of the handmade outfits can cost thousands of dollars. 
  • Do not sit on the chairs immediately around the arena. These are reserved for the dancers only. 
  • Do donate money to the drum. Although this is a free event, a special "blanket dance" is traditionally called for in which the audience show its appreciation for the hosts and the drums. 
  • There is No Smoking inside the building. 
  • No alcoholic beverages or drugs are allowed.