The contemporary Pow Wow is a link to the past that helps maintain Native Heritage. The Pow Wow is a spiritual legacy which should be treated with respect and honor. It is a time for Native American families to be together with other family members and friends. It is a time of sharing, of laughter and tears, of learning, and of caring. It is a time when Native Americans reflect on their traditions. It is a time to honor the past and celebrate the future.
The word "Pow Wow" comes from the Algonquin word "Pau Wau" which was used to describe medicine men and spiritual leaders. Early Europeans thought that the word referred to the entire event. As Native American tribes learned English, they accepted this definition.
A typical Pow Wow starts on Friday evening with a single Grand Entry and preliminary contest dancing as well as Intertribal dancing. Saturday has two Grand Entries, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening after a dinner break. Sunday usually has a single Grand Entry in the afternoon after which the final competitions are held for the contest.
Families travel hundreds of miles to attend Pow Wows across the continent. Time and distance are not relevant. The renewal of traditions and reinforcement of the heritage is the important thing. It is a time to strengthen the circle.
Here is a great video by PBS about powwow: VIDEO