Yellow Bird: Pow-wow crosses cultural lines
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"During the [recent University of North Dakata Indian Association] powwow, someone came up and asked me about the paint that some of the dancers use on their faces. In this day and age of so much tribal intermingling, I am only sure of what painting the face would mean to my tribe, I told them. My uncle told us that you could tell a person's band and what society he belonged to by how he painted his face. My uncle has been dead for awhile now, and he told me this when I was in my teens. So I wasn't sure that all of the dancers used paint in the same way. I recognized some of the ways in which the dancers painted their faces, but again I wasn't sure this "tribal identification" was their motive here at the university powwow.

That distinction between tribes used to hold true of dance outfits. You often could tell what tribe people belonged to by the way they dressed at the powwow. Eagle headdresses generally were worn by Plains people, floral designs could be Chippewa and the velvet and turquoise was, many times, Navajo or southwestern.

But when I lived in Oregon, a young Navajo student loved the Plains dress so he made his outfit in that manner. So the rule doesn't always apply."

Get the Story:
COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD: Powwows should draw more non-Natives (The Grand Forks Herald 4/8)

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