Louisiana Indian Heritage Association


Pow wows

  1. When I'm at a pow wow, where do I sit?

    We ask that each person bring their own lawnchairt. The benches around the circle are reserved for dancers. Blankets are placed on benches to designate a dancer's chosen spot. Please do not move the blankets.

  2. Do pow wow commities profit from these events?

    Pow wows and dances are non-profit events. Donations are encouraged. One method of collecting donations is a blanket dance, where the money is dropped onto a blanket which is placed onto the ground for that purpose.

  3. What is a "Special"?

    Native Americans honor family members with a "Special" dance or song. When the dance is over, if you choose, you may go up to the person being honored and shake their hand and the hands of their family members. Sometimes a handshake with a dollar in it is appreciated. If you choose not to dance, show your respect by standing when the family passes by.

  4. Is alcohol allowed?

    Alcohol and drugs are never allowed at these events. Pow wows are family-oriented events. You will be asked to leave if you indulge.

  5. Can anyone enter the dance arena?

    The dance arena has been blessed. Please honor this by reminding all to stay outside of this inner circle dance arena at all times, unless you have been specifically invited in. Then by all means, please come and dance with us (leave food and drinks outside of the dance arena). There are times when the Emcee will announce an inter-tribal dance, where EVERYONE can come and dance. This is the only time dance regalia is not required to dance in the dance arena.

  6. Why am I asked to stand?

    It is a custom to show respect during certain songs such as the Flag Song, Veteran's Song, Invocation and Men's and Women's Traditional Dances by standing up, removing your hat and remain standing until the Emcee says you may sit.

  7. What types of dances are there?

    There are several different types of dances you can see at a pow wow, they include:

    The Grand Entry: takes place at the beginning of each dance session. Dancers parade into the Circle following the Eagle Staff, the colors and the head staff.

    The Flag Song: is the Native American equivalent of the National Anthem, and all stand as this song is sung. In recent years nearly every Indian tribe has composed what are called "Flag" or service songs, dedicated to honoring the men or women who have served in the various branches of the armed forces during the various wars.

    The War Dance: is the most colorful and best known of all the Indian dances. Contrary to popular belief this dance did not precede preperation for battle. Its meaning is more spiritual. It is a dance which the Plains Indians their emotions whether it be a dance of sorrow for a fallen warrior or one of hapiness for a great battle victory. In this dance the dancer attempts to depict his actions while hunting or in warfare. The modern version of the war dance is generally the type seen at most Indian Pow wows and bears little resembalance to the older meaning put upon the original dance. The "Fancy war dance" is used primarily in the selection of champion dancers.

    The Honor Dance: is a special dance to honor an outstanding family, group, individual or event. Sometimes the singers will give the honoree a special honor song. If this occurs, the person given the song will give the Drum a gift or money, then begin the dance by dancing around the Circle once. Then the other dancers, consisting of friends and family, may join a line to offer congratulations to the honored person and give a gift or monetary donation. The honoree follows the dance with a giveaway to recognize the Drum, Head Staff and others.

    The Two Step: is an adaptation of a dance known as the "Rabbit Dance" performed by Northern tribes such as the Sioux. The women ask the men to dance, form couples and hold hands as they dance. They must follow the steps of the leaders. Anyone can dance.

    The Blanket Dance: occurs during a dance session when a blanket is placed on the ground near the center of the dance arena. The dancers and spectators drop money on the blanket as they dance by. Often spectators will als participate. The blanket is then picked up and given to the head singer to distribute among the other singers. Often this is the only money they recieve after traveling hundreds of miles.

    The Gourd Dance: Originally danced by warriors and now by veterans, the Gourd Dance is not part of competition and is performed seperately from other pow wow dances. Certain songs are designated for the Gourd Dance. Women dance on the outside of the circle in support of the men.

    The Round Dance: is held at the beginning of the pow wow after the grand entry and veterans songs. It is a social dance and all are invited to participate. Moving clockwise and using a side-to-side step, the men dance around the drum and the women dance around the men on the outer fringe of the dance arena. Originally the male and female dancers alternated as they circled the Drum. Due to the men's feathers, they allow the men to dance seperately.

Back to top


  1. How do I trace my Native American ancestry.

    The best way is to start with a usual family research. Where did your parents, grand parents, etc., come from?

    If this leads you to an area that was populated by Native peoples, you will need to research tribal offices. The goal is to see if your relatives are listed in tribal roles.



Back to top