Native American Tribal Dancing
I did not begin dancing in pow-wows until I was in my thirties. Now in my mid-60s, my participation in Native American tribal dancing is extremely limited due to a back injury. Words cannot express the emotions that coursed through me the first time I entered the Circle in a simple regalia, all I could come up with at the time.
In our language, one will often hear the word jiingtamok, which roughly means “gathering of the people.” The traditional opportunity to gather and socialize was at its highest when we came together in this way. Feasts were prepared and great anticipation of being reunited with friends and family coursed through the villages as a jiingtamok approached.
Most pow-wows are open to the general public as another way of presenting who we really are. There are dances to honor all veterans, regardless of their race origin, and all veterans are encouraged to join those Natives who are also veterans. Some dances are open to the public during which everyone is encouraged to enter the Circle. And there are dances that are reserved for Natives only .
During a tribal dance, arena directors and Tribal Elders watch to ensure that protocol is honored and practiced. As with most traditional dances, pow-wows are highly structured and organized. General protocol instructions can be found here and here on the internet if one is interested.
In 1978 I was working for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. I was asked to help with the organization of the first jiingtamok following the United States Congress’ decision to return our right to worship in our own way. Today, this pow-wow is honored by the attendance of four thousand to six thousand people including many from European countries who take their vacations in July of each year to attend this event.
A pow-wow is a good resource for greater comprehension of who we are and the hospitality we believe in. We invite everyone to come and dance with us.
An important part of the dance is the traditional regalia. Each dancer’s regalia is unique and meaningful. I explain my regalia in my book, Dancing My Dream, which you can purchase through this web site or through Amazon.com.