This is the entry of all the people entering the arena. During the Grand Entry, everyone is asked to stand as the flags are brought into the arena. You will see the US flag, Meskwaki Nation flag, POW flag, and the State of Iowa flag usually carried by Meskwaki veterans who have been in the armed forces. The flags at the Meskwaki Powwow are meant to remind people of those who have fought for this country but are also a way for the tribe to remember all of their ancestors that endured, persevered, and died protecting the Meskwaki way of life.
Special guests of the powwow follow the veterans including the Head Man dancer and Head Woman dancer and the Nation’s Princesses. Next in line are the men dancers, followed by the women dancers and then the youth and children. Once everyone is in the arena, and while everyone continues standing, the flags are raised as singers sing the flag song and honor song. After the flag raising and honor song, the opening dances begin and everyone dances to the beat of the drum.
The Flag Song is sung at the beginning of most Native activities. It is the Native equivalent of the National Anthem. Almost every Tribe has composed a Flag Song, as do the Meskwaki, dedicated to the men and women who have served in the armed forces in various wars. There is no dancing to this song, but all stand in respect. Certain people may dance in place in honor of a loved one who is/was a combat veteran.
The five flags flying during the Powwow are in honor of the five Meskwaki men who died in service during World War II and the Vietnam War.
ROBERT MORGAN POST 701
The American Legion Robert Morgan Post 701 was established in 1947 by a group of Meskwaki veterans who had just returned from serving in World War II.
Today, the group has more than 45 members who serve the community by raising and lowering the flags each day during powwow and by helping lead Grand Entry twice daily. The group proudly ushers in the flags, visiting veterans, honored guests, and dancers as they enter the arena during each Grand Entry.
CHECK OUT PAST EVENTS
2020’s Powwow Special Edition MNT
2019’s Powwow Program Brochure
2018’s Powwow Program Brochure
2017’s Powwow Program Brochure
2016’s Powwow Program Brochure
Powwow singers are highly regarded as the keepers of our songs. Originally, songs were sung in the language of the singer. As different tribes gathered together, the use of vocables (words that are a combination of certain sounds without meaning) evolved so that singers could share songs. These songs hold significant meaning to those who know them. Some favorite songs about war, bravery, love and friendship are from colonial times, while many are still being composed today.
The drum is more than a musical instrument. It has sacred ties to the Native way of life. It should be cared for with strict drum/etiquette/rules.
The traditional drum was made by stretching hides over a frame and lacing the hides together with a leather rawhide thong. The skin was tightened every time it was used by placing it near an open fire to adjust the pitch. Because this is not practical today, many drum groups use the bass drum which is easily adjusted for pitch and has a consistent tone.
Powwow dancers perform twice daily, in the early afternoon and early evening, each day of the gathering beginning with what is called “the grand entry”. It’s one of the most moving spectacles you can see.
Stand up during the grand entry - Unless you are physically unable to stand, you are expected to show respect for the dancers and rise as they enter the arena. Show respect to the flag and honor song as well by standing until the songs are completed.
This is a social and cultural event, yet invested in reverence. You are going to see people engaged in elaborate and deeply traditional dances. Please conduct yourself as if you were in the home of the most respected friends of your most beloved relatives. Anything you wouldn’t do there, don’t do here. The singers and dancers want to share their culture and heritage with you, and they want you to have a good time so don’t worry about making a mistake. Just relax, sit back and enjoy the celebration.
Please refrain from negative thoughts or comments. The powwow grounds should be considered sacred. A blessing is performed ahead of time and sets the tone for the event. It sanctifies the area. Women on their monthly cycle should refrain from entering the arena. Although the blessing is not open to the public, its spiritual nature should be taken seriously.
Feel free to bring lawn chairs, but do not place them in front of the dancers’ chairs, and never sit in someone else’s chair or in the covered areas around the arena designed for the dancers and elders. Feel free to sit anywhere on the bleachers. Please do not enter the dance arena unless specifically invited to do so.
The event will include singing, drumming, ceremonial dancing and native dress, including full regalia (the word “costume” is often felt to trivialize these handcrafted family heirlooms).
Never touch a Native American dancer’s regalia. If you feel the need to touch, always ask permission, and be gentle and considerate. Respect the personal space of dancers as you should for anyone else. You’ll find that most dancers are friendly and will answers your questions about their regalia.
Never record a Native American drum without the permission of the head singer. Frequently people do stand around drums and video or Snapchat without permission without any consequences. But it shows respect and consideration to ask permission first.
Dress modestly. It is not appropriate to wear halter tops, extremely short skirts or shorts, or swimsuits. Do not wear T-shirts or other items of clothing with profanity or inappropriate slogans.
Pay attention and listen. The MC (Master of Ceremonies) can be heard via the sound system. Listen to what he says. He is coordinating the powwow and advising visitors about additional protocol and event changes.
No alcohol, drugs or firearms are permitted at the powwow. Any one found under the influence or in the possession of drugs or a firearm will be immediately escorted off the powwow grounds. Tobacco may be used, along with common sense and respect.
There is plenty of food and drink available for purchase around the area, as well the chance to purchase Native American handicrafts. Don’t leave without trying a Meskwaki specialty... especially the fry bread!
Respect everyone, non-native and native, especially elders. Treat everyone with respect and kindness. Look out for children and pets. Treat others as you would expect to be treated.
Use courtesy and respect when photographing. The MC will let you know when it will be absolutely not acceptable to take photographs. If you would like a dancer to pose for you outside the arena, always introduce yourself and ask permission. If you are a professional photographer or artist and feel you may use the image in the future for a commercial project, tell the dancer. Make sure it is OK with him or her.
Be flexible. Above anything else, Native American powwows are social events. The schedule of events change often so get ready to slow down and have a good time! It’s your chance to see old friends and make new ones. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage in conversation with vendors, dancers, singers and other powwow participants.
Enjoy yourself and have a great time!