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Native American Music - Essay Example

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Native American Music

Dance competitions are usually a part of a Powwow to promote interaction between the people within the same tribes or between different people from different tribes. The Grand entry marks the beginning of a Powwow. All the people enter the showground and everyone is asked to hoist up flags. These flags include different tribal flags along with a US flag which is raised in memory of all the wars and battles waged by the tribesmen in the country. The music for the songs and the dance competition is provided by the drums. The drum is specially designed to be large and a group of drummers beat it while the traditional songs are being sung. There is generally a starting song for the event, the grand entry song as a call for all the people who have participated, flag songs to show patriotism and respect and a closing song to mark the end of the Powwow. The Powwow is a way of the tribes’ thanksgiving to the creator and the dances are treated like an offering. The dance performances are a way of celebration of the circle of life and for this reason the setting of the Powwow is also a circle. The area reserved for dancing is known as arbor and is also a large circular area within the location. Most of the cultural activities like contest dancing, drum competition, ceremonials, singing and cultural exhibition usually take place inside the arbor. Contest dancing is actually an evolution of the traditional dancing in which good dancers were awarded with small prizes. Now the dancers have huge fan following and are given heavy cash prizes for the entertainment they provide to everyone attending the Powwow. The other entertainment activities like gambling games, parades, food stalls, exhibition of arts and crafts usually take place outside the arbor. After the grand entry performance and the flag songs, there are traditional dances performed which include the sneak-up dance, victory dance, inter-tribal dance and veteran’s dance. An important part of the Powwow culture is the respect and veneration which they hold for traditions and individuals. Honoring songs are hence also an essential part of a Powwow. Honoring songs are sung not only for particular persons but also in reminiscence of a particular event. These songs may praise the valor of a hero or the administration skills of a well known leader of a particular tribe. These songs may also be sung in remembrance of a war or a particular cultural practice. Sneak up dance song: The sneak up dance is one of the most famous dances of the Native American tribes. The dance is actually a tableau of a scene which depicts how to ‘sneak’ up on an enemy or a prey. There are many different versions of this dance but all of them run on the same theme of using stealth to gain an advantage over the opponent. In the most famous and the oldest version of the dance, arbor represents a battle ground where some men have become wounded and need help from their companions. Before the start of the dance, the wounded are escorted in the middle of the arbor. During the first part of the dance the wounded stay in their position motionless while the dancers dance with their heads facing the wounded. Then the rolling beat starts on the drums to create thundering sound which actually symbolizes the action and mayhem of the battlefield. The drum beats then become slow and the dancers slow their movement and advance towards the wounded. When the beating stops, the dancers freeze in ...Show more


Powwow is a grand event celebrated by Native American people. It is an event meant for socializing, family reunion, singing, dancing and enjoying and everyone including woman and children take part in it…
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Native American Music essay example
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