From what I’ve learned reading these three books on the powwow, it is first and foremost a gratitude celebration to the creator around harvests. It is also a time of connection with family and friends, bringing large groups together in shared activities including the dances.
Creating special clothes for the celebrations preserves the craft and culture needed to create beautiful and intricate costumes. There are also gifts exchanged, both purchased and homemade. Again, this is a chance to teach and preserve the old ways.
image from Wikipedia
There are jingle dancers, grass dancers, shawl dancers, and drumming groups. I’ve included video of these powerful and moving dances.
I’d love to add to this list but I would like to limit it to #OwnVoices First Nations and American Indians. Thanks for your help!
Image from VisitStockton.org
p.s. Other #OwnVoices Native American children’s book lists:
#OwnVoices Powwow Picture Books
Josie Dances by Denise Lajimodiere, illustrated by Angela Erdrich
“In this Ojibwe girl’s coming-of-age story, Denise Lajimodiere highlights her own daughter’s experience at powwow. Elegant artwork by Angela Erdrich features not only Josie and her family but also the animals and seasons and heartbeat of Aki, Mother Earth, and the traditions that link Josie to generations past and yet to come.” [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
A contemporary Native American girl, Jenna, wants to dance the jingle dance at the next powwow but her Grandmother Wolfe doesn’t think there’s enough time to order the rolling jingles needed for her dress. She needs four rows of jingles in order for her dress to sing and everyone she asks is willing to help her out. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
In this story, Jenna is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is also of Ojibway (Chippewa/Anishinabe) descent. She lives in a contemporary intertribal community and family in Oklahoma.
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child, translated by Gordon Jourdain, illustrated by Jonathan Thunder
This bilingual Ojibwe/English picture book is a story of a family attending a powwow and the spiritual associations with it. The powwow dream sequence includes traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dance dancers, as well as a drum group. The connection of the Ojibwe song and dance is connected to past and present through the powwow. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life by Marcie Rendon, photographs by Cheryl Walsh Bellville
Marcie Rendon shares her people, the Anishinaabe (also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa), in this deep dive into the Downwind family’s celebration of the circle of life that includes as many as twelve powwows a year. The powwow is a ceremony that was traditionally held with the changing of the seasons but now occurs year-round. This is a time to express gratitude to the Creator and to connect with friends and family. Another element to the Downwind family is that they foster children and their five children come from different reservations. Rendon explains tribal enrollment and identity. During this powwow, Shian, a Downwind daughter, will pass on her Junior Princess crown to the next girl. It’s a time of celebration, gifts for the support she has received all year as a princess, and, of course, dancing! [nonfiction book, ages 7 and up]
Son Who Returns by Gary Robinson (Choctaw/Cherokee)
Fifteen-year-old Mark Centeno is of Chumash, Crow, Mexican and Filipino ancestry–he calls himself “four kinds of brown.” When Mark goes to live with his Chumash grandmother on the reservation in central California, he discovers a rich world of family history and culture that he knows very little about. He also finds a pathway to understanding better a part of his own identity: powwow dancing. Riveted by the traditional dancers and feeling the magnetic pull of the drums, Mark begins the training and other preparations necessary for him to compete as a dancer in one of America’s largest powwows. [middle grade, ages 12 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.