Have you ever experienced a Pow Wow? Not the business meeting or nuclear family gathering kind, but a real, Native American Pow Wow. Throughout the U.S., during what is typically called “Pow Wow season” (spring through summer) you can find a Pow Wow in just about every state. And why would you want to attend such an event? Well, there is a wealth of reasons, but probably the biggest draw for those of our ilk would be the drums.
The very first sound our ears took in was the sound of our mother’s heartbeat. In fact we listened to the beat of that drum for nine months as we gestated, grew, morphed and eventually developed into a baby ready to exit the womb and enter the world. So it is really no surprise that the sound of drums evokes deep and profound memories, even though we cannot always articulate what those memories are. Our connection to the beat of a drum is synonymous with our connection to our mother.
Regardless of our conscious memories of our mother or current relationship, we all have one. And the woman that gave birth to us is not our only mother. We too have a connection to the earth as mother. When we hear the beat of the drum we are connecting to the pulse of the metaphoric Great Mother. If we listen deeply to the drum, the echo of our Mother’s heartbeat, we merge with the rhythm of love, compassion, harmony and peace.
Stepping into the circle of canopies and tents of venders with their wares displayed upon the grass at a Pow Wow, you will immediately feel the beat of the Mother drum penetrate deep within your bones. It reawakens an emotional connection that is entrenched within your very soul. Indigenous people throughout the Americas have a profound reverence for this truly sacred sound and gather together in celebration to sing and dance upon the earth in honor of the Great Mother. The Pow Wow is an ancient tradition that remains alive and well despite the history of events that have attempted to eradicate these precious customs.
In most Pow Wows, there are a variety of nations or tribes present. In the past, as various tribes gather together to drum and sing, they would share their songs, often changing the songs so singers of different tribes could join. With these changes came the use of “vocables” to replace the words of the old songs. Thus, some songs today are sung in “vocables” with no words, yet they still hold special meaning to those who know the song.
For non-native people a Pow Wow is an opportunity to connect with a rich tradition of culture, rhythm and ceremony. “Our subconscious hungers for this kind of remembrance and awareness of what lies deep within our DNA.” Although the space in which the Pow Wow is taking place is considered sacred ground, all are welcome; Natives and non-natives alike. People of all ages, all backgrounds, and all religious faiths have an opportunity to experience community, spectacular demonstrations of traditional dances and an overall deep connection to all of life.
And then there is the food! A popular dietary staple at most Pow Wows is what is called Indian Fry Bread. It comes in a sweet rendition smothered with powdered sugar and honey or it comes in the form of what has been termed an “Indian Taco.” The Indian Taco consists of ground beef, beans, lettuce, cheese and tomato piled on top of the fry bread. Loaded with fat and calories no doubt, but it really is something to be experienced. Besides, you could always work off the calories by entering a dance contest or join in the arena for the non-competitive dances where everyone is welcome.
This Mother’s Day, consider taking mom or any other significant woman in your life to a Pow Wow to experience the beauty of the Mother drum. Bring the whole family! Bring some lawn chairs or a blanket and let her sit and enjoy the display of amazing dances and feel the healing rhythm. You can buy her a gift that she has picked out from one of the vendors, so you know she’ll like it. She won’t have to cook, which always pleases a busy mom. And, should she be so inspired by all of the celebration, she can get her Native groove on and join in the dance.
The sights and sounds of a Native American Pow Wow are an amazing array of beautiful songs, colors, and people. For a visitor all of this can be overwhelming and intimidating. Visit www.powwows.com and you will not only find a calendar of Pow Wows happening near you, but there is also a guide for those attending a Pow Wow for the first time.
Every woman is a mother in her own right. We at the Drum Cafe would like to honor and give thanks to all of the women who have bravely birthed a child, a book, a business, an idea or cared for any living creature. Let us Dance upon the earth and celebrate her beauty. Let the drum beat a song of joy, of laughter, of abundance and plenty. Let us move our body to the rhythm of life—the rhythm of nature. Let us drum and dance in gratitude for each new day, as we welcome hope, light, and endless potential. May the echo of our mother’s heartbeat be a guiding force upon our journey.
In Joy and Rhythm,