The dark and scary stuff.
Stories from the "oral tradition" as told by Charles P. White.
1) Listen to the Master of Ceremonies. Each Powwow is different and this is rule number one! All instructions for guests and participants come from the MoC.
2) Do not sit within the arena. The chairs inside the arena are reserved for the dancers or signers. Use the outside circle or bleachers if provided.
3) If you want to take pictures, check with the POWWOW host first, then check with the person you are taking pictures of and ASK THEIR PERMISSION. Under no circumstances may you enter the arena to take photos. Put your camera down for all memorial dances.
4) All tape recording must be done with the permission of the Master of Ceremonies and the Lead (or Head) Singer of EACH drum. When a new drum starts, do not enter the arena to get to the other drum. Don't run. Miss the song and wait for the next one to take your time getting to the drum. Nothing is more rude than "Recorder-runners" ganging around a drum. Many Powwows disallow this anyway (fine by me!).
5) If you are not wearing traditional Regalia, you may dance on social songs (like Two-Step, Blanket Dance, Honoring Songs, Circle, etc..) Sometimes a blanket dance is held to gather money. You may enter the circle to donate and dance.
6) Only those with the permission of the Lead Singer may sit at a drum. (And it's a good idea to know the songs because it's often a habit to ask the "stranger" to lead one.)
7) Stand and men must remove their hat (unless traditional head gear) during the Grand Entry, Flag Songs, Invocation, Memorial, Veterans Songs, and the Closing Song.
8) During the Gourd Dancing, only Gourd Dancers and Gourd Dance Societies are to enter the Dance arena. Owning a gourd rattle does not make one a Gourd Dancer. Check with the local Societies.
9) Please do not permit your children to enter the dance circle unless they are dancing.
10) Do not touch anyone's dance Regalia without their permission. These clothes are not "costumes" and yes we use modern things like safety pins and such because we are a "living" culture, our Regalia is subject to change. Leave your stereotypes at home. (Yes there are some blond tribal enrolled Indians... no ones fault that life goes on!) 11) If you are asked to dance by an elder, do so. It is rude and disrespectful to say, "I don't know how." They know that you don't know how to dance so how can you learn if you turn the elders down?
12) Most all Powwows do not allow Alcoholic beverages, Gold Paint cans, or drugs here. The Powwow is a time of joyful gathering and celebration of life. Alcohol and drugs are destroying our way of life and these "bad" spirits are not welcome.
13) It's funny how much trash we as people drop. Make an extra effort to walk to the trash can. Respect Mother Earth.
14) Remember always: Native American Indian dances are more than the word "dance" can describe. They are a ceremony and a prayer which all life encompasses and produce many emotional and spiritual reactions. Some dances are old, some are brand new... the culture continues to live and evolve. Respect what is sacred to others.
15) Urban Powwows are much more "tense" than Powwows on the rez. As people are away from the comfort of culture, they tend to take things more seriously. Abide by peoples wishes and requests. We as Indian people believe differently. Some dance around clockwise, others counter clockwise. If our host asks, we sometimes voluntarily show our respect by temporarily changing our way(s). When they are in our house they do the same.
16) Have fun. Buy something from the vendors. Donate if you can. And most of all don't be so uptight and relax. The whole universe comes together this day to celebrate. You are invited to join in.
March 15, 1984 and July 28, 1988 - Charles Phillip White
It's not so bad here in the Arctic
I could live here longer if I must
No matter how you insulate yourself
You can feel the fatal cold
Ice gathers upon my face
Tears mold icicles from my eyes
My skin is brittle from the wind
Shards of cold pierce my heart
At night I dream of running naked
Through the Ice to you
And when I awake
I fathom who you are
You're the cold that's killing me
Unwilling you my be
The power you wield you do not know
The warmth you steal fades away
I wrap my arms around your fatal cold
To hold you once again
It's not so bad here in the Arctic
I could live here longer if I must
Near my cave,
I feel you close.
Your steps betray you;
I am aware.
What brings you here?
The fear of death?
The smell of my fire?
Or is it the treasure you lust?
You pathetic little creature,
Sneaking to take a glimpse.
The terror you seek is here,
The gold is not.
You think you're coy but,
I can feel your tiny feet upon the land.
Your every breath touches my wings,
I can see you through the stone.
Don't you know who I am?
I come from the sky above burning villages below.
Defeating knights and children alike,
by Killing kings and castles by flame.
That's it, closer to my cave,
You're so near my scales itch.
My claws yearn to grasp your frail body,
My teeth ache to rip your skin.
You think I died with fairy tales.
Yet I am alive today,
Waiting for you to enter my cave.
I AM THE DRAGON!
I come from the sky above burning all below;
You made me what I am,
I'll come for all of you.
The wind blows fierce over the trees,
Below, where I stand, it's clam,
A lone tree bends and sways in rhythm to the gusts,
While others refuse, and snap,
Falling with a thunderous roars.
The wind develops a savage rage
Wiping walls of invisible weight
A forest falls around me
exposing me to the wind's cruel lashing
Running from the chaos,
I seek the swaying tree,
Buffered from the wind,
I am grateful.
And the wind blows, and blows, and blows,
While I stand beside my protecting giant
The wind's frustration wails for me
Beckoning me to slip away
Just as I become complacent with my safety
The tree protecting me becomes a threat
Branches moan under the woe of the wind
Warning me of an impending doom
In panic I ask where am I to go?
If I run from the tree the wind shall surely win
If I leave the giant it will surely fall
I must decide my fate and tree's as well
The answer comes to me
I must defeat the wind
So I shall bend and I shall sway
And with this strength,
I shall come to the aid of the tree
I sat on my grandmother's knee
While she told me stories what I could be
She told me to love every rock and tree
Because in my blood there is Cherokee
Now I admit I was shocked but proud
And now I proclaim it strong and loud
I was then called a wannabe
but I'm not, I'm 1/256 Cherokee!
So it was with great hesitation
That I finally went to the reservation I said, "I am Cherokee, can you help me Mister?"
He said, "What about your brothers and sisters?"
I asked the man what he meant
And he asked me why I was sent I said to prove that I am a Cherokee
and not be called a wannabe
I just "know" things and love the trees,
It is because I'm a Cherokee
With a look he wore before
He asked to leave through the door.
Standing at the curb the splash hit me
from a puddle and a passing Jeep Cherokee
Author: Charles Phillip White
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