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These pages will give you an overview of just some of the Powwow Dancing found at the Gathering of Nations and other competitions.

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Native American Lakota star  Women's Northern TraditionalNative American Lakota star

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<Previous Page - Women's Fancy Shawl>
<Next Page - Women's Southern Traditional>

This stately dance involves a slow-moving or non-moving bouncing step, rhythmically dipping and swaying to the beat of the drum. Dresses of buckskin, wool or other material are heavily decorated with beading, quillwork, elk teeth, bone or antler or shells. The colors for this dance tend to be more subdued than in other outfits.

At the Gathering of Nations eleven judges will evaluate the dancers in each category. Judging examines outfits - how well the various pieces contribute to the ensemble (is it cohesive) and the quality of the beadwork or other handcrafting - and the dancing itself.

The dance of traditional women of the Southern part of North America differs from the Northern Traditional Dance while incorporating some of the same elements. It is an elegant, slow, graceful walk and gentle sway in time to the music of the drum. The gentle motion of the shawl folded over the arm must be in harmony with the motion of the body and with the drumbeat.

A gentle tinkle sound accompanies the dance as dresses decorated with many small tin cones near the hem of the dress and tin tubes on the beaded pouches that decorate the belt. Beautiful but heavy breastplates and chokers made of bone and crystal beads, and intricately beaded medallion necklaces, purses and buckskin moccasins and leggings are the necessary pieces of the outfit.

 Each piece may be decorated with beadwork that matches or compliments the dancer's favored color. A beaded drag hangs at the center back of the dress and a silver or beaded drop hangs from the front of the belt. Often a beaded crown completes the outfit.

There are as many variations on the dress as there are individuals. The origin of each piece and its use also varies from tribe to tribe but many pieces have originated from the tools that women carried and used most often in their daily work such as awl cases, knife pouches and even straps used as horse whips or to bundle and carry things.

Women's Northern Cloth
Women's Northern Buckskin

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<Previous Page - Women's Fancy Shawl>
<Next Page - Women's Southern Traditional>

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