How hard is it to set up powwow? It takes months of planning. We have to find a facility, find people to be head staff, get an arena director and M.C (Master of Ceremonies), find drum groups, sign contracts, set up security, and we need a head male & female dancer. They lead the Grand Entry and the dances.
How many years have they done powwow here (in the La Crosse area)? It has been 20+ years and it's been at UW-L, Veteran's Park in West Salem and at Onalaska high school.
How many years have you been doing a powwow? I haven't danced in a while, but I've seen pictures of me when I was a baby so I've been going as long as I know.
How do you dance? The drum is your heartbeat. It represents Mother Earth's heartbeat. That's how you keep the beat. Jingle Dances are healing dances. Grass dancers tell the story of getting the arena ready. Ho-Chunk have the Appliqué. They can carry a washboard. It's more an accessory, but the motion is like scrubbing. You dance a certain way according to the category.
How long are the dances? Each song is usually about four minutes, but Grand Entry goes until everyone is in the arena. Sometimes at big powwows that can take 45 minutes. Special dances can take longer too. Specials tell stories. Something like the Swan Dance can take 10-20 minutes.
Is there an age limit for dances? No. Young children can dance and The Golden Age category is 55+.
How long does it take to put on the clothes? Are they uncomfortable? It depends on the regalia. You have to get your hair braided. It can take about an hour to an hour and a half. There are simple dresses usually worn during the day and they are very comfortable. Full buckskin might be hot. Appliqué are often worn at night. Jingle dresses are a little challenging. You have to remember to hike up the dress before you sit.
What types of food do they have? We have a prepared meal. You have to feed your people. We also have food vendors with fry bread (seen in photo to the left), Indian tacos, frybread dogs (hot dogs wrapped in fry bread), soup with corn or soup with corn and squash. Regionally food is different. I've had mutton stew in Idaho.
What is the best part of powwow? Seeing everybody that you haven't seen since last powwow. Visiting. It's social - bringing everyone together. I remember when I was in 5th grade at the end of powwow not wanting to end.
To learn more about the Ho-Chunk Nation, you may visit the Nation's website or the local Three Rivers House Facebook page. The brief video below shows a little of the dancing from the weekend.