About Pow-Wows as Modern Traditions

Activities, protocols, songs, and dance styles and songs of modern pow-wow are intertribal expression of American Indian traditions and religion. Rituals of these native social gatherings are rooted in tradition, with most of them morphing into modified versions of actual traditional practices as time has passed. Dance styles and outfits for men and women in these modern pow-wows have developed through compromises between the many intertribal communities in the United States and Canada. Pre-conquest, many tribes had social traditions where they gathered in intratribal and intertribal assemblies to dance and sing.

As pow-wows developed throughout North America, they became highly formalized events with protocols and participant behaviors controlled by unwritten traditions. These controlling traditions, though, are "invented traditions," traditions constructed and instituted within a relatively short period of time, and they are dynamic but hard to change once accepted. As a result, pow-wows throughout Canada and the United States are mostly similar in features, rituals, dance styles, dance outfits, and dance songs. Yet, even with the generalized pow-wow traditions, many Indigenous American people find that they are also a place to reaffirm their Native identity.

Modern pow-wows are accepting of intertribal participation and they take two forms: (1) a traditional pow-wow where the primary purpose of the meeting is to socialize and celebrate with friends and family and (2) a contest/competition pow-wow where dancers in particular dance-style categories compete with each other for prize-money. Both types of pow-wows provide support to Native Americans and First Nations individuals and communities through ritual participation in dancing, singing, or watching. Further, traditional pow-wows encourage community-health whereas the contest pow-wows are places where “identities are negotiated and cultural expressions are canonized.” Despite any differences, both type of pow-wows are opportunities for Native people to learn because of their more significant similarities in rituals and song and dance traditions.

Urban American Indians, in particular, who live away from their traditional lands and communities, manifest their traditions and Native expression through contemporary intertribal pow-wows. These social gatherings not only help urban Indians develop their American Indian identity but they also help them cope with life stresses and develop native community relations. Most pow-wows, however, limit the participation of some based on cultural and social expectations for women and others within their Native communities.

There are pow-wows throughout the year, starting as early in the year. In general, pow wow season runs from June until September, with numerous being held each weekend. Some Native families will follow the "pow wow circuit," as they travel from one pow wow to another, often camping out at each site and catching up with old friends. Often, but not always, pow-wows are open to the public, especially when they are organized by public groups or organizations. This helps educate the locals on American Indian culture. There may or may not be a fee for admission to a pow wow. But keep in mind that fees and sponsorships help offset the cost of putting on these enormous undertakings.

Pow Wows Associated with the Lipan Apache Tribe

The Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas Veterans Homecoming Pow-Wow

The Lipan Apache Tribe’s pow wow is the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas Veterans Homecoming Pow-Wow, a competition pow wow established to support Indigenous veterans. In 2024, this pow wow is scheduled for its inaugural on the third Saturday in September (September 21, 2024).

The Lipan Apache Tribe's Nde Daa Pow Wow and Dakee Si Pow Wow

The Tribe also sponsors two traditional pow wows,The Lipan Apache Tribe's Nde Daa and Dakee Si Pow Wows, set up primarily as a social space for the Lipan people where they can socialize, celebrate, and learn with friends and family. Traditionally, the Lipan Apache had social gatherings where their people from extended family and different Lipan band groups would gather together to celebrate important events such as a good hunt, the coming of springtime, the fall harvest, and major life events. These traditional meetings evolved throughout many generations to the current “pow wow” cultural celebrations, meant specifically for the Lipan people but also welcoming to other American Indians (intertribal). Thanks to the Soto family who in 1970 formalized the yearly Lipan social gatherings as "pow wows." With the 1970 pow wows, the Nde Daa and Dakee Si Pow Wows celebrated fifty years in 2020. And, these traditional gatherings continue.

The Nde Daa (Spring) Homecoming Pow Wow is in March and the Dakee Si (Fall Gathering) Pow Wow is in October. The ceremonial Badger Run commences the Dakee Si pow-wow. Both of Nde Daa and Dakee Si pow wows are free with no entrance fees.