Native American Powwow Celebration

Here we look at the Native American Indian intertribal powwow performance in which the dancing body, emergent from a colonial and postcolonial process, expresses the cultural, physic, and material survival of Native America. Within the sensory experience and expression of an ever-increasing diaspora of the powwow circuit, spatial and temporal practices combine with the visceral and moving body to produce a site of negotiation between Indians and non-Indians. Specific powwow dance styles–Grass, Traditional men’s and women’s, Jingle Dress, Shawl, and Fancy–are the most intense manifestation of this contemporary popular performance in which issues of race, resistance, and celebration are played-out.

An underlying argument is the potential of performance and, more specifically, the body to transfer and generate power. Another contention is the capacity of Native American Indian tribal nations, organizations, and communities to sustain alternative ways of creating a more transcultural and inclusive way of being between peoples of distinctive cultures. The project draws from fieldwork in the United States at intertribal, Indian-organized powwows in the northeast and Montana from 1995 to 1998.

Seven chapters include an introductory definition of the Native American Indian intertribal powwow as a performance genre in relation to a colonial historiography and instances such as the 19th century Ghost Dance; a discussion of how previous literature on powwow address the centrality of the dancing body in powwow practice; an explication of a methodology that includes fieldwork, archival research, Native American notions of space and time as well as movement analysis; an historical sketch of performative traits, performance practices, and vignettes within a polychronic genealogy; the spatial, temporal, and dance aspects of the genre; and, an analysis of racial and transcultural issues.

This post falls within the categories of performance, anthropology, dance, movement analysis, Native American, postcolonial, and race studies.

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