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Pow wow etiquette, lesson one: Making the regalia

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Photo by krystalline kraus

Hello Canada, I want to encourage everyone to at least get out to one Pow Wow this year.

That said, over this week, I hope teaching you the Rules of Grand Entry, Rules and etiquettes when in attendance and of regalia and dance styles.

Yes, I do want to make it clear that a Pow Wow is not generally considered a First Nations ceremony (such as Sun Dance, Sweat Lodge, and Fasting for a Vision are examples of ceremonies that are closed to the general public).

That said, the Pow Wow is still spiritual in nature. The public display of dancing actually is a private commitment to pray...and pray hard and foster a relationship to Father Sky, Mother Earth another spirits that they wish such as the Thunder Birds or water.

The key is, even if the dancers are tired, they are encouraged to continue dancing and invite the spirits to help them stay strong.

Speaking of the dancers for a moment, they are not dancing to put on a concert for you:­­­ the visitor. They are dancing in their beautiful regalia (not "costumes") to bring honour to the families who help sew together their regalia or taught them the dance steps, honour for themselves and honour for the Great Mystery.

They dance wearing their regalia that contain images of animals or feathers or bones, or certain colours, and all these can be used to represent their clan, their spirit helpers, and maybe to reflect the Spirit Name and/or the colours they were given. All these aspects can be found on someone's regalia, thus their dancing and their regalia is that all people when dancing also pray.

This dancing as Praying as when gives the dangers the desire to dance at the best of their ability so they can make their family, their clain, their spirit helpers and their colours proud.

So if you see a dancer all in regalia, please don't touch the outfit and please ask permission to take a photograph and then maybe engage in some polite conversation about where they are from. BUT don't be turned off if they have to leave abruptly as they may be calling him back to the arena. 

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