Friday, July 29, 2011

Building Community Through Dance

Last month, my husband and I took a road trip to visit my sister in Montana.  Luckily for us, the Arlee Pow Wow was in full swing.  If you've never attended a pow wow, I heartily recommended it.  The beauty and uniqueness of the costumes are a joy to see;  the deep drumming and Indian singing are deeply moving; and the sense of community is heartwarming.

I asked a few of the dancers why they dance and what dancing meant to them.  None of them wanted to be directly quoted or to have their picture associated with their quotes - I did, however, receive permission to share some of their thoughts.

Interestingly, they all voiced similar reasons:  " I dance for our tribe", "I dance because I am proud of my heritage", I dance to stay close to my relatives who have passed on".  Once again, I was reminded that community can be created in a variety of ways.  In part, the Arlee Pow Wow is about creating community through dance.

Below are some of the photos we took, be sure to double click the photo for a larger version.  For more photos and for a more detailed account of our trip, click here.

Prior to the start of the pow wow, we saw many scenes like this:  people helping each other get ready for the dance.
The costumes are incredibly colorful and many of them have shells and bells so the rhythmic dancing creates a hypnotic sound.
The women's costumes are equally beautiful.
Children of all ages participate - notice the baby in the mother's arms.  I was told that young babies are brought to pow wows almost from the time they are born so that the sound of the drumming can be imprinted as early as possible.
These little girls were having so much fun.
All ages are represented in the dancing.
Since my sister and I are part Native American Indian - Navajo - we joined in the All Tribes Dance and we were delighted to be a part of this community for an afternoon.

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How do you like to create community?