Powwow 101: Women’s Fancy Shawl (Photo Diary)

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The powwow is a public celebration and demonstration of community pride in Indian culture and a way of honoring Native American heritage. At the present time, there are powwows held in all fifty states and in most of the Canadian provinces. Some are held on reservations and reserves, while others are held in places such as universities and colleges. One of the most popular dances to watch is the women’s fancy shawl dance. This is a colorful, high-stepping dance. Many years ago, when I was still dancing, one fancy shawl dancer explained it this way:

“The idea is to spend as little time touching the ground as possible.”

Watching the women’s fancy shawl competition is like watching a psychedelic blur of color moving in time to the beat of the drum. Shown below are some of the women’s fancy shawl dancers at the 45th annual Kyi-Yo powwow at the University of Montana in Missoula.

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