A powwow is a celebration of people coming together, dancing, and enjoying each others’ company. Originally, the powwow was a way for returning warriors to tell their stories through dance, and the Denver Art Museum upholds the tradition that has been around for over a century by throwing a friendship powwow every year.
This celebration ecompasses all the traditional elements of a powwow plus new modern ones. There is dancing, food, a market where people sell their goods, and an opportunity for kids to design their own square for a community quilt. Also, as a part of the friendship powwow, the Native American soldiers who had served the U.S. were honored. They came in holding the flags right in front of the dancers.
“The whole powwow just has a great vibe,” says 17 year old dancer Nathaniel Bearsheart. He and his sister, Ella, have been dancing in powwows for 10 years now. They have been dancing at the Denver Art Museum powwow for four years. “I have great memories from this powwow,” Nathaniel says. “It’s fun to meet new people too.”
The dancers work very hard to prepare for their dances. Ella and Nathaniel both said that they practice daily so they can keep in shape and get better at the dance. However, not just the dancers are having fun. Several times throughout the powwow, they invited audience members to dance and perform with them. Audience members also played games like musical chairs and participated in circle dances. There were also dance competitions for prizes.
Although typical powwows have not happened for many years, the Denver Art Museum’s rendition was fun and helped spectators learn about the Native American celebration that is the powwow. So next year, come on down to the Denver Art Museum to experience this cultural celebration.