Whether Tribal members dance in regalia that reflects a traditional or more contemporary style, everyone in proper attire is welcome to participate in Grand Entry.
To respect the sacred nature of the dance space, traditional regalia is preferred. Tribal members who do not have regalia and plan to dance should choose clothing that keeps the legs and shoulders covered. Women and girls should wear ankle-length or maxi-type skirts. Blouses should cover the shoulders. Men and boys should wear slacks and a ribbon shirt. It is acceptable to add ribbons to commercially produced shirts. Several tutorial videos are available on YouTube and other websites.
Casual clothing like shorts and tank tops, or open-toed shoes such as sandals and flip-flops, are not permitted in the dance arena. Flat shoes are recommended since the dance surface is grass-covered.
If Tribal members do not have appropriate attire, they are welcome to observe the dancing from the stands but should not enter the dance arena. Parents are urged to keep a close eye on their children, so they do not accidentally enter the dance space or disrupt the dancers.
“How do I enter and exit the dance area?”
If Tribal members are participating in the powwow, they are free to move within the dance circle or sit on one of the benches in the outer perimeter of the circle. The dancers will move in a clockwise direction around the dance area.
Observers should avoid crossing the boundary line on the outer edge of the dance circle. Seating is available in the bleachers surrounding the dance arena, or folding or camp-type chairs may be set up outside the circle.
Dancers may use the benches to rest in between songs. Please do not move any blanket, shawl or dance regalia that may be sitting on the benches.
To respect the sacred space, pets are never allowed inside the dance circle. Eating, drinking or smoking are never permitted within the dance circle.
“Can I take photos?”
Before taking a photo of a dancer, it is best to ask for permission. If a dancer declines, please respect their preference not to be photographed.
While taking photos, do not touch any part of the dancer’s regalia without asking. Regalia is often passed down, and care must be taken that it does not become damaged or soiled. Items like feathers, fur, buckskin and some fabrics are not easily cleaned. Many items have special spiritual or historical significance to the wearer and should not be casually handled.
Do not step into the dance arena to take photos or video. Observers should avoid standing in front of others and blocking the view of those seated closest to the dance circle.
Never photograph dancers during the competition dances. Flashes, even from camera phones, may be distracting.
“Can I talk to the dancers while they’re outside the circle?”
Yes, dancers are often willing to answer questions about their regalia or just to socialize. Please be respectful of their time. During the evening’s dance competitions, dancers may be called to the arena for their contest. Do not delay their return to the dance circle.
For many dancers, the experience of dancing is a spiritual one, sometimes compared to prayer. Do not interrupt the dancing or cause a distraction while people may be involved in a sacred practice.
“I’ve never danced before? What happens?”
Listen to the master of ceremonies, or emcee, for information about when to enter the
dance circle, exit or other instructions.
The Grand Entry begins at 8 p.m. Plan to be fully dressed and ready before 8 p.m. and head to the Grand Entry point a few minutes before it begins. An arena director will help dancers find their group. If you are a member of one of the honored families who will be leading Grand Entry, gather with your family members.
Dancers enter the space single file, organized in groups according to their dance style. Veterans and elders will enter the space first.
If a dancer is not able to make Grand Entry, they should wait to enter the dance circle until Grand Entry has concluded. Participants should not disrupt the process to belatedly join their group.
Immediately following Grand Entry, honor songs will be sung. These songs may honor ancestors, those who have walked on or Tribal veterans who have served their Nation. All dancers and spectators, including children, should stand quietly and respectfully during the honor songs.
During intertribal songs, everyone, regardless of age, may participate if they are dressed in regalia or in appropriate clothing. If dancers have questions, they may ask the arena director or the designated head dancers for additional information.
Read more about Family Reunion Festival at cpn.news/festival.