Do the Indians really call it a Pow Wow?
Yes, they do, and the Denver Pow Wow is one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The word comes from the Narragansett Indian language...
The word "powwaw" means "spiritual leader."
If you've included Denver in your travel plans, and you want to experience the Old West...
...the real INDIAN Old West...
You should try to get there in March for this event.
The modern gathering is a social occasion. It's a time for Indians... Native Americans... to come together to honor their heritage with singing and dancing, traditional costumes and foods, and storytelling and native art.
This event started in 1984 when Native Americans started re-asserting and revitalizing their heritage and rights.
The Denver Pow Wow is usually a three day event.
It features hundreds of dancers and musicians from about 100 different tribes. There are different styles of traditional dances from each of the various tribes.
Dancing is probably the central activity during a pow wow... it's definitely a colorful event.
If you go to their website, they have a great section on explanations for non-Indian spectators.
Indian dancing is really an individual activity, but it is performed as a group. Each dancer moves to the beat of the drum. Dance styles vary and are derived from traditional dances of the different tribes represented.
Dance costumes are colorful and elaborate.
They really do wear those headdresses for the dancing. They're made from animal hair with eagle feathers on top. There are bone breastplates, feather bustles, beaded armbands, and chokers and anklets of fur.
Traditional dancing was originally a form of story telling. Warriors acted out battles or hunting scenes.
The one event you really don't want to miss is the "Grand Entry". This procession is performed a couple of times on Friday and Saturday and one last time on Sunday.
It starts with the "Heart Beat drum group" singing, followed by the entrance of a participant carrying an Eagle Staff.
Next come the flag entrances... the American flag and flags of Indian Nations. Once everyone has entered, the flags are raised with flag songs.
Then comes the Inter-tribal Dance... all the dancers from all the tribes and from all age groups dance together, but in their own style.
With the beat of hundreds of drums urging them on, and the swirl of color as they dance around... you feel it as well as see it... it's something you won't soon forget.
There are also dancing competitions. The women get into the act with the Jingle Dress Dance.
There are many booths selling Native American arts and crafts... jewelry, blankets, pottery and beadwork.
And yes, you can buy authentic Cheyenne arrows and Sioux tomahawks.
Try traditional food such as fry bread and Indian tacos.
The Denver Pow Wow is held in the Denver Coliseum. Tickets are sold at the door. If you want to take pictures you will be required to purchase a permit for video and digital cameras.
Native American cultures ARE the Old West. Visit Denver for the Rocky Mountains and include the Denver Pow Wow for that Old West spirit.