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Pow Wow History

The Pow Wow is a celebration of traditions, which actually began at White Eagle, Oklahoma around 1877. It was a celebration after the removal of the Indian-to-Indian Territory. A celebration of arrival after the hardships of the journey and so many had died along the road to Oklahoma. 

The word "pow wow" derives from the Algonquin term for a gathering of medicine men and spiritual leaders in a curing ceremony, "pauau" or "pau wau." Historically, all tribes held ceremonies or get-togethers to celebrate gathering, warfare, song, dance, visit and feast. These ceremonies allowed people to give thanks, honor their deceased relatives, or give special honors, such as name-giving ceremonies and coming-of-age rite. Many times they were held to renew allegiances and maintain friendships with members of visiting tribes. 

During the pow wow, wisdom passes from the elders to the children. To Native American people, the elders and children are most important. Both the young, who are just beginning their journey through life, and the elders, who are near the completion of their journey, share closeness to the Creator. To those who have newly arrived and those who will soon leave it, the work is especially beautiful.

Men's Fancy

One of the more modern dances in the Pow Wow, Men's Fancy dance is the most strenuous and athletic. To be good at this dance, the dancer must train for stamina and agility. The dance is fast and features jumps and twirling. 

The regalia is said to represent the rainbow spirits in its bright colors and flying feathers and ribbons. The Men's Fancy dancer typically wears two bustles of bright colored feathers with added ribbon, feather or horse hair hackles and bright arm and head bands repeating the colors and patterns. The dancer also wears a headdress roach trimmed in colored horsehair and featuring two eagle feathers. The roach is designed to keep the feathers either spinning or rocking in movement. 

It is part of the dance to keep the feathers moving constantly throughout the song. Dancers also carry coup sticks which are highly decorated with ribbons or feathers. The coup stick was originally a small stick carried into battle by a warrior. It was considered a great sign of bravery if you were able to touch your enemy with your coup stick (much more brave than killing your enemy).

Men's Straight

Formal and original dance of most Oklahoma tribes, including the Ponca, Osage, Kiowa, Comanche, Kaw and many others.

Dignified style where men keep a steady, flowing pace and not interrupted with fancy moves or extra foot work. These gentlemanly dancers appear to be looking for something as they dance. This dance was conceived to tell the story of a hunting or war party  on the trail of an enemy or an animal. The dancer tries to be convincing in their "search" and that often is a very real story the dancer is attempting to tell.

The most noticeable thing about the regalia of a Straight Dancer is the lack of any bustle. Often times they will be wearing an otter skin turban or a hair roach and an otter skin "trailer" which extends down the back.

About Us

United San Antonio Pow Wow, Inc. is a Texas nonprofit-chartered - 501(c)(3) Federal recognized organization whose purpose is to promote the traditions and culture of the American Indian in the most positive manner possible.  

Our mission is to provide Indian people the opportunity to participate, practice, teach, and exchange tribal traditions among all tribes, to enlighten the non-Indian about the history and culture of America's first inhabitants, to dispel stereotypes created about the American Indian and to develop instructional materials on Indian history and culture for an educational booklet to be published at our annual powwow.

The organization is open to any individual who shows a true interest in the traditions of the Native American. Membership includes: 

  • Individuals recognized by any Indian Tribe, Nation or organization stating membership in that entity, which must be a State or Federally recognized approved Indian Tribe of Organization. 
  • Individuals with blood relative's documentation
  • Any individual with a true interest in the traditions and culture of Native Americans and willing to fulfill the purpose of the Organization.

The organization is governed by a Board of Directors.  All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law; a Federal 501(c)(3) organization.

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