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Pow Wow Offers Colorful Lessons

The rhythmic beating of the drums, the accompanying chants and the colorful costumes drew CVTC students and staff to the BEC Commons area Monday, as the campus hosted its annual American Indian Pow Wow Exhibition.

But there was more going on than interesting entertainment. Lessons in Native American culture were part of the show.

The one-hour event featured the American Indian dance group Pipestone and the emcee was Dylan Prescott, a member of both the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi nations. With Prescott’s narration, the dancers demonstrated some of the different male and female dance styles.

For example, Prescott explained how a dance called the Grass Dance originated in the Great Plains, where tall grasses dominated. When a pow wow was held, the dancers would make the tall grass lie down, creating a space for the gathering to be held. Prescott explained how a traditional women’s dance involved very little hopping around, as is common in men’s dances and other types of women’s dances. The dance comes from a tradition that women should “dance softly on Mother Earth,” Prescott said.

He also pointed out differences in costumes, such as one dancer wearing traditional garb from northern tribes while another depicted a dancer from tribes in the southern part of the continent. He explained the significance of the use of certain materials, like porcupine and deer hair.

The one-hour event could not really be called a full pow wow, which traditionally lasts a full day or even several days. It was, though, an entertaining and educational exhibition.

Visit CVTC's Facebook page to view more images from this event.