Pow Wows and Gatherings
Native Americans have gatherings, often called "Potlatchs", or the more commonly known as Powwows. The name Pow Wow came from the Algonquin term "Pau Wau" meaning medicine man or spiritual leader. Europeans applied "Pau Wau" to native "Potlatches" or "Gatherings" recognizing them as spiritual events or ceremonies.
Gatherings have many uses. A Gathering is an opportunity for inter tribal sharing of materials, resources, knowledge, customs, and stories. It is a place to meet and have relationships, and to show off regalia and craftsmanship. It is always a wonderful family atmosphere. Songs are sung. People dance and embrace. This is a place where everyone should be safe, honored, respected and loved.
A circle is designated and blessed honoring the four directions- East, West, North, and South.
Each direction may represent something different depending on the tribal nation holding the pow wow. Most native cultures will have an animal, color, stone, or energy associated with each direction.
A Powwow was and is a remarkable event. A tribe hosting the Powwow would send out word, sometimes a couple years ahead. That tribe would begin preparations to host the great gathering. They would spend all their time making blankets, preparing food, clothing, regalia (not costumes), housing, even to the point that some things would be neglected. They would be the perfect hosts. Every visitor received an equal gift. And the farther a group had to travel, the greater the gift and honoring they would receive.
Native Americans gave thanks for having these items and were grateful to mother earth for providing them. Native Americans were not materialistic- all things were 'of the creator', including the people. So in many cultures all possessions were given away at these events.
An additional note concerning material values. Usually the most revered tribal leaders were those with the least possessions- chief's and medicine leaders had no possessions. They had no need for materials for the tribe cared and fulfilled those needs. If the Chief, medicine man, or elder needed food or clothes it was simply provided. The only time materials were collected were for these "Potlatch" events which may have happened only once in a life time.