Brief Definition of a Pow Wow
A pow wow (also powwow or pow-wow) is a social gathering held by many different Native American communities. A modern pow wow is a specific type of event for Native American people to meet and dance, sing, socialize, and honor their cultures. Pow wows may be private or public. There is generally a dancing competition, with many different types of traditional dances, music and regalia, often with significant prize money awarded. Pow wows vary in length from a one-day event, to major pow wows called for a special occasion which can be up to one week long.
Pow wow etiquette is required; such as rules for when photography is or is not acceptable, protocol for the Grand Entry, and so on. A few guidelines are common; clothing worn by participants is known as "regalia" and not to be called a "costume." Some rules are for common sense courtesy: drums have special rules and should not be touched or played by those not a part of the drum group. People and their regalia should not be touched without permission. Photographs are also a big part of pow wow etiquette. Depending on the reservation and ceremony, viewers should ask before taking photographs or recording videos or tapes. Some tribes, such as the Pascua Yaqui and Hopi, ban photos and sketches of ceremonies.