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Photographer's Note

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Photo taken during the second day of 18th Texas Championship Pow Wow in Houston, Texas.




What to watch for at the Pow Wow

Pow wows are celebrations, social gatherings and friendly dance competitions. But, as with the sacred thread that runs through all of life, there are sacred traditions to be found in this coming together of people.
There is a circle in most dances, representing the circle of unity, the cycle of life. Dancers often follow the clockwise pattern of the sun.
Some of the regalia and/or ornaments signify special events or honors in a person's life, special religious traditions or symbols rooted in legend.
Everyone is welcome at most contest powwows, regardless of tribe - non-Indians too. For newcomers to these colorful events, a bit of explanation may enhance the enjoyment and understanding.

Tips for Pow Wow Fans

When the eagle staff is brought in during the grand entry, everyone stands. Hats are removed in respect. That same respect is shown should an eagle feather fall during the dancing. Everything must stop until a proper returning of the feather has been performed.
Pointing with a finger, particularly the index finger, is considered impolite. It's best to indicate a person or direction by pursing the lips and pointing with the eyes or to nod in the direction. For the Lakota, indicating with a thumb or little finger, while not preferred, would still be more polite than the index finger, but never toward a person.
Do not bother the performers or stand in front of those preparing to dance or those singing.
As with most events involving competition and concentration, camera flashes can be distracting. Photos may be taken, but don't use the flash during the contest. And ask permission before snapping an individual's photograph outside the dancing, for this is private time. Some powwows are more restrictive than others in terms of photographing the event. Videotaping is often strongly discouraged.
Don't touch any regalia (outfits, NEVER costumes). Ornaments have special meanings and many of the handmade outfits, which can cost thousands of dollars, are cherished and sometimes are made by a respected family member. Frequently they are heirlooms and may be delicate.
Feel free to join in the inter-tribal dances by invitation of the master of ceremonies. As with the grass dance, other dances have traditions or legends connected with them.
Dances are either for men or women and competitions generally are divided into age categories.

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