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POWWOW or PAW-PAUS
What is an American native pawpaus?
Back before first contact before the Europeans made it necessary for the people to change the gatherings American native people held, gatherings call a Paw-paus.
Soon after first contact because the Europeans were starting
to get extremely pushy at wanting into this very spiritual event and long before the plains Indians called their enemy by the name White eyes the Sachem's of the New England tribes came together to find a
fast safe way out of this situation. Long before this first contact
our ancestors knew of an evil Shaman warlock that practice
Shamanism, this Shaman warlock whose name was
called powwow was an extremely evil witch.
The Sachem's of these true American native people placed the problem in the
hands of their clan mothers, after many debates about the problem the clan mothers
came up with the name powwow and a great explanation as to why it should be used.
It would seem that our invaders from across the waters acted very much like this Sharman so why not start having an event like our paw-paus and invite them all?
The problem in this day that was unforeseen by our ancestor is that now many
of these powwows are infested with shamans, witches and warlocks, some ever running it!
This would be a very good reason to explain why no American native advertises when and where we are holding our Paw-paus.
I can and will only talk about this very spiritual event from what I have been taught from the 40's 50's and 60's and allowed to talk about!
As told to me by the traditional elders of our New England people, this gathering was held after each of our four season Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer or in their words South, West, North and East.
Fall (south) is the time of year for meetings to get ready to head in to the middle of the land gathering food and supplies and make ready to last out the colder weather that is coming, at the end of this time (fall) there would be a gathering of the people and prayers, dancing and drum for the Creators protection while on our journeys or a mini gathering. The New England people did not carry homes around the land instead they would build homes (round and long houses) in each of the seasons, places they stayed in for that season. In the winter time (west) the people split up into family groups (clans and headed west) because of the food shortages at this winter time. In this winter it would be a time of hardship keeping warm and finding food and firewood so at the end of this winter these clans would hold a gathering to share food, clothing, wood and storytelling. Spring (North) would be the time to start back toward their main homes at the great river, for planting and repairing homes and fishing holes.
At this time I will input the fact that these homes (except for the sachems family) is on a first come first serve bases so if the last owner shows up both families work together an build one or the other a new home!
Summer (east) is the time for a gathering of all the people this gathering ( Paw-paus) would be a great Spiritual event and everyone would bring food and work together repairing and rebuilding the prayer circle of course with a great opening in the East to allow room for Creator and all of the ancestors to enter.
While the people are fellowshipping, telling their story of the past season and learning of members past while gone west and new members arriving while gone and so on the fire keeper and helpers would clean and clear the circle and get the fire ready for the time Creator comes to visit with the people.
The Sachem, with a warrior on each side to help and tend to any needs while dancing around this circle, these warriors would carry the Sachems gifts and staff if necessary to Creator and would be at the head of a line so as to pray to have a friendly gathering before entering the circle.
Sachem would at this time ask the people to please place any bad feelings, gossip, and bad thoughts at the east door, if they wanted them back after the paw-paus just let Creator know otherwise Creator will take them into his fire to burn forever and the people can be cleansed enough to enjoy dancing and drumming with Creator and the ancestors.
Each family (clan) had their own prayer staff with prayer bags and medicine pouches from past family members and animal family members, this staff would usually be carried into the circle through the east by the family's Clan Mother. Next would be the elder women then elder men, younger women and children, last but by no means least would be all of the warriors keeping a close eye out for any unwanted guests. As you may now start to see this gathering is a little different from a modern day powwow that you may have gone to, this would be because first, remember we are of the matriarch society, but most of all I am writing about a Paw-paus not a powwow!
They had no need for fancy ropes or railings around this circle each member would place their skins or fur blankets around and all knew that the correct way into Creators church was through the East, even our animal friends (always welcome into our church) seem to know that they are welcome to come dance and fellowship with the people, the ancestors and Creator, if they made a mistake someone, usually the fire keepers helper, would just pick it up and carry on with the gathering. No vendors nothing to sell every family would bring something for meals and the young women would cook, every family would also bring things for trade and give away.
Creator would come into the circle and take over the fire usually for about week.
I have broken no code or promise made to my elders by not going into our spirituality aspects during this gathering so traditional people please understand that we need to at least get something out on the net so non-natives can see that we still do our church.
Flags and staffs
I have no problem with carrying flags and staffs into a powwow circle; in fact I believe that they add to the beauty of the event as long as they are respectful.
I know that if one looks back on each and every powwow that I had some kind of control of the circle, one would know that I take great pain in enjoying displaying as many flags & staffs as possibly, one need only let it be known that one wishes to dance in a flag or staff, I request about at least ½ hour too allow for setting them up. That said this is not so with a PAW-PAUS nor should it be, a pawpaus is for American natives and should be treated as such, If you look at the photo on top of this page you will notice,
And no one is displaying medicine! Not that they were not there, they were not photographs out of respect for people wishing to dance them in.
Bottom line too all of this is if one goes to another person's church from another culture one should try to be respectful of that persons culture.
Pow Wow Etiquette
Vocabulary and Titles:
Arena - dance circle,
This area is blessed by Creator before the dance and must remain pure throughout the Ceremony.
There is a single entrance to the circle always facing East, you should not enter the area unless invited, and this is the only entrance that should be used to enter.
This invisible boundary should not be broken at anytime by any one.
Regalia - attire worn by dancers - NOT a costume.
The development of a dancer's regalia is a very personal process. Often items have taken years to create or may be gifts and have deep meaning.
Master of Ceremonies
(MC) officiates over Ceremony proceedings.
Guide to the events - pay attention to his announcements.
The Drum - Is the heartbeat of Mother Earth.
The drum acts as an agent to bring harmony and balance to participants and to spectators.
The drum acts as an intercessor to the spiritual realm, Ancestors/Creator.
Grand Entry - opening processional of officials and dancers.
This person runs the circle to the rules of the tribal nation and Creator as set up before the start of this gathering!
Head Man Dancer - lead dancer.
He will begin and guide the other dancers through the dance.
Head Woman Dancer - lead dancer.
She will begin and guide the other dancers through the dance.
Intertribal Dance - social dance;
Open to visitors to come join the dancers in celebration.
Bring your own seating
Chairs and benches around the arena is reserved for dancers,
seats with blankest or other personal items are taken
Items left at seats are not to be touched
This is a gathering of family there should be no need to guard belongings from each other.
This is as a church please dress accordingly halter tops
and short shorts are not appropriate for this celebration.
Pictures may be taken with the permission of the dancers.
However, never during dedication dances as in the Grant entry,
Honor songs, Veterans Songs, Flag Songs, and Prayers.
These special songs will be announced by the MC.
NO drugs or alcohol permitted at any time for any reason.
Supervise your children so that all may enjoy the event without distraction
Animals some gatherings do not allow them and so should
not be brought to the event please ask beforehand.
Do not litter!
Respect our ways.
Do not touch a dancer's regalia.
These items are made with great care and are often gifts to the dancers from
friends and family. They have deep significance and should be respected.
If something falls, leave it.
Inform the individual that they have dropped something, and they will go through
the proper procedures to retrieve it.
If invited to dance, please do.
If not invited do not go.
It is disrespectful to decline, do not worry about not knowing
how the person who invited you will teach you.
Listen to the MC always for guidance.
He or she will let you know when you need to stand and when you may sit after honor songs.
They will also announce intertribal dances and other invitations for our guests to participate.