Monday, July 20, 2009

I know this!

We drove into Wall South Dakota. We stayed in a little motel that was made up of little cabins that were very comfortable. We were driving in long stretches now and we were tired with a capital T. I turned on the TV and scanned through the channels.
On one of the channels was an Ogalala Lakota Pow- wow. It seemed very foreign to me. The costumes and music were so different, at first. Then I saw a mom go up to her daughter and push the hair out of her daughters eyes and adjust the feathers on her headdress. I knew this woman and her daughter. I did not know them personally, but I knew their actions. My daughter danced in class and Irish Step Danced, I have seen little girls dance in recitals before. I have seen moms make sure their daughters were ready to perform and both force smiles to hide their nervousness. The pow-wow was held in a gym and I knew this too.

The differences started with the music, it was live. The drums and singing were there and not taped. The girls went up in age brackets 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15. The first dance that I saw, the girls had to dance like a bird. All the costumes were brilliantly colored and brightly beaded. The skirts had thin bells attached and all wore beaded moccasin type boots. They mostly had feathers in their hair and wraps that hung long and were brightly beaded as well. The music started and the dance began. The girls did not dance together, but apart yet still mutually supportive of each other. It seemed like they were hopping in small circles until they raised their arms and the wrap would sweep out and they would resemble birds in flight, wings outstretched. Beautiful!

Each age bracket had a chance and the winners brought together for a dance off. At the end of the dance off, it got very different. The judges decided that all the competitors were so good, that all won first place. The MC then shook hands with all the winners, gave them their prize, and then told them they brought honor to their people for their efforts. Now that's different.

The equivalent of princesses were selected from the 15 year old girls to represent the Lakota at local schools and organizations. Here again, the MC thanked the outgoing princesses for the honor they brought to their people over the last year. The new girls received beautiful blankets which brought beautiful big smiles to the winners, I know this!

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