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24th National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Pow Wow Etiquette

  • 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.
  • Bring your own seating unless you are sure ahead of time that seating will be provided for the general public.
  • If you have a question, or are unsure of how to act in a particular situation, first look at those around you, and then politely ask what the correct course of action is. The participants are usually glad to help.
  • Photographers are encouraged to ask permission before taking pictures or recording songs.
  • Please pick up trash and do not leave items unattended.
  • When the Flag Song or Indian National Anthem is sung please stand and remove hats.
  • Please stand during honor songs until the sponsors of the dance have danced a complete circle and have come around again, and then you may join in. If you are not dancing please continue to stand quietly until the song is completed.
  • Everyone may dance during intertribal and round dances. Dance regalia is not needed.
  • Absolutely no alcohol or drugs is permitted. Anyone found drinking or intoxicated will be removed immediately from the premises.
  • The Kyi-Yo Celebration is a non-profit, student sponsored event. We appreciate your support in joining us for celebration.
  • Have fun and thank you for attending!