Each June, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West hosts its annual Powwow with more than 200 dancers, 9 drums, and 28 tribes represented. Dancers, drum groups, and artists from Northern Plains tribes gather to celebrate vibrant cultural traditions. This celebration reflects both historical and contemporary influences in both dance and music. Powwow is a competition in which men, women, teens, and children participate within their designated category, which varies in technique, speed of the drums and song, and clothing and regalia. While each participant has a unique style, dancers must keep up with the rhythm of the drums. If a dancer’s feet are offbeat, a judge can disqualify the dancer.
Contemporary men’s northern and southern traditional dances originate during times of celebration and honor. During the song, traditional dancers emulate a warrior preparing for battle. This can be witnessed during songs such as the double beat and sneak- up dances. Their regalia is identified by a head roach, feather fan, staff, breastplate, large-medium size bustle, cape, and breechcloth. Tribal members adapted their regalia to reflect their individual styles and tribal epistemologies.
All photos are courtesy of ©Frontier Fortitude Photography