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U.S. National Pow Wow Honors American and Canadian Indigenous Peoples

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

Pow Wow Grand Entrance, USA National Pow Wow of 2005.

Pow Wow Grand Entrance, USA National Pow Wow of 2005.

National Powwow exists to respectfully share in the values of American Indian culture. We strive to educate ourselves and increase awareness of American Indian traditions among the non-Indian community with the support and guidance of Indian people.

— National Powwow website

Reconstruction of the Body and Mind

The National Pow Wow is a cultural tradition, so-named only since 1996. Although its management and venue have changed hands more than once, it brings Indigenous Peoples and their descendants from all around America and Canada.

I visited Washington DC as a youth in 1969. On the National Mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I witnessed the demonstrations and the dancing with the rest of the hushed crowds around the memorial and Reflecting Pond.

Among our Native North American languages in Canada and USA, the translation for "soldier", "warrior", "protector" and "helper" are all the same word in each particular indigenous language.

A 19-year old buzz-cut U.S. Marine in full dress uniform stepped forward and spoke about defending his country and his principles in Vietnam, stepped away, and returned in full Southwest Native American Fancy Dance regalia to perform. We were stunned. He was my hero that day.

They - The People - come together to celebrate their heritage, their languages, their customs, their dances, drumming and music; and their reverence for Nature. They dance with confidence and share Native foods and folklore with everyone that attends.

Reconstruct the Body

Reconstruct the Mind

Reconstruct the Spirit

Leave the rest behind.

— Native American Song "It will Be So"

New Pow Wow Location

For several years since the 1960s, the national event has continued to take place at a spot where the new National Museum of the American Indian opened on the National Mall in late 2005.

A second national pow wow emerged in Danville, Indiana. Its organizers state that they have held such a pow wow once every three years since 1969.

The Iroquois Nations once spread throughout New York, parts of Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio, trickling down the Appalachians. Cherokee Nation long ago broke away from the Mohawks and migrated to the Carolinas.

The Iroquois Nations once spread throughout New York, parts of Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio, trickling down the Appalachians. Cherokee Nation long ago broke away from the Mohawks and migrated to the Carolinas.

Pow Wows For Native Veterans

Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Desert Thunder

We have Pow Wows locally in Ohio -- in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, the Dayton and Springfield area and others; but none of them are as large as the National Pow Wow.

Local Pow Wows are often held on Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September, in order to honor not only Native Peoples as veterans and workers, but all of America and her various cultures coming together to appreciate our servicemen and servicewomen

US Native Americans are over-represented in the military; post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have hit the Navajo hard.

— The UK; 9-6-2011

National Pow Wow, Washington DC 2007

In August 2007, the National Pow Wow featured Native American US Soldiers from the War in Iraq. In Iraq, they had built a ceremonial drum from the bedding tarp of a cot and a 55-gallon oil drum. They drummed in the desert and called their drum Desert Thunder. to go along with Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. They brought it to the Pow Wow for a special performance honoring all the military men and women of the US who are in Iraq and other foreign nations.

The surviving Code Talkers of several tribal nations from World War II gave a speech and presentation. No one could break their codes for the US Government during the war - not the Japanese, not the Germans, not the Italians, not the Russians - no Allied or Axis nation's peoples could break it.

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A special recognition presentation and ceremony was also held for all Native Americans past and present who served in the Armed Forces.

Despite a past popular belief that Native Americans are all alcoholics, they allow no drugs, alcohol or smoking - even tobacco - on or around the National Pow Wow premises.

National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa, Ontario

National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa, Ontario

Native Veterans of the Western Hemisphere

  • A Tribute To Native American Veterans
  • First Nations Veterans Memorial

    This is a fitting and deserved tribute to all of our country's Indigenous Peoples that serves in the military, including the Code Talkers.

  • NNAVA National Home Page

    The National Native American Veterans Association will strive to assist the families of Native American Veterans. Assistance will be given in obtaining Veteran Rights, Entitlements, and Benefits without regard to Tribal Affiliation, branch of the Arm

Traditional Fancy Dancers

Hoop Dance. Performance from a 2001 pow wow.

Hoop Dance. Performance from a 2001 pow wow.

Native North Americans in History

Famous Native Americans remembered at the Pow Wow and in the National Museum of the American Indian.

Jim Thorpe was a famous Native American from the Sac and Fox nations. At his vocational high school, he trained in track and field and football under the legendary Pop Warner. Thorpe was later an Olympic athlete, winning Olympic Gold Medals in both the pentathlon (5 events) and decathlon (10 different events) in the 1912 Olympics in Sweden.

He was penalized for playing semi-pro baseball before the Olympic Games, because having accepted payment for any sports participation cancelled out anyone eligibility for the Olympics at that time. Other athletes got around this rule by playing baseball and other sports for pay under false names. The AAU decided that Thorpe should lose his medals.

The AAU and the Olympic Committee took back his medals in 1912 and did not return them to him after his death in 1953, but not until 1982, a full 70 years later. He had played major league baseball from 1913 - 1919 and professional football form 1920 - 1926 and again in 1928. The Associated Press chose him as Athlete of the Half Century in 1950.

Actor Jay Silverheels, of the Mohawk Nation (Iroquois), was born the son of a chief on the Six Nations Indian reservation in Ontario, Canada. He trained to become a professional lacrosse player, lacrosse being an indigenous sport for many Native American nations.

He later became a stuntman and then an actor, finally winning the role of Tonto, the Lone Ranger's friend. He was the first Native American actor to play an Indian on TV.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell is a Northern Cheyenne chief and a US Senator from Colorado through 2004. He nearly always attends the National Pow Wow. Like Jim Thorpe, Campbell has also been an athlete - a U.S. Judo Olympic champion three times.

Actor Graham Greene of the Oneida Nation (Iroquois) has been in the movies Dances with Wolves and The Green Mile and CBC TV's The New Red Green Show. Like Jay Silverheels, he was also born on the Six Nations Indian reservation in Ontario.

Pro wrestler Flying Don Eagle was a Mohawk war chief born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. He moved to Columbus, Ohio to perform on TV's Big Time Wrestling in the 1960s and he trained other indigenous wrestlers.

Will Rogers was an American humorist whom everyone assumed to be a cowboy. He was a 1/4-blood Cherokee born in the Oologah Indian Territory (Oologah, Oklahoma) in 1879. He was on a par with Mark Twain in his humor and stage presence and he made a few films, including A Connecticut Yankee in 1931.

Women's Smoke Dance


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and News

India Arnold from Northern, California on September 30, 2010:

Patty this is a very cool hub, I am linking to and voting 'up'. This strong heritage is to be honored and shared and the National Pow Wow is a masterful event. In a county near my home, this is celebrated during the annual Salmon festival where many traditional foods and historical methods of survival are shared. The dances and ceremonies are very up lifting and powerful- that haunting yet moving singing reaches so deeply within.

How remarkable that Marine, a burning image you will take with you forever. Thank you for bringing this hub to us.


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 01, 2010:

It's amazing and even more so since the hallways of American Indian exhibits became a full fledged separate building at the Smithsonian in 2005. Great fun as well. I wonder what happened with that Marine?

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on August 01, 2010:

Great hub. I didn't know there was a National Pow Wow.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 01, 2010:

I saw the National Pow Wow, before it was so-named, as a kid way back in 1969. A 19-year-old Marine spoke on the steps of one of the DC memorials, went and changed into fancy dress regalia and danced for the hushed crowd. Then he went back to Viet Nam.

He was my instant hero, and I did not even know about my native heritage yet. Yeah, pretty awesome.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 01, 2010:

Awesome blog! I just went to my first Pow Wow this summer and I loved it! Great video-link you put up too (National Pow Wow, 2007).

emeraldkell on May 11, 2010:

Thanks for writing this amazing hub. It's so important to keep the culture and traditions of all Native American groups alive. We live in a world where the next generation is losing their native languages, values, beliefs and culture. I hope this will never happen.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 08, 2008:

I like the Crosby movies as well! There is a film I have not seen yet about the Code Talkers. I must look for it - there is so much abou the war that still, no one knows much about. I hope we don't lose it. I am glad you commented!

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on November 08, 2008:

Another great hub, Patty, full of good information, great American icons and fascinating videos. The Navajo code talkers were incredible. Unfortunately the number of living WW II veterans is falling rapidly. I'm surprised we still have any talkers still with us. Jim Thorpe was a great athlete who got a raw deal, and Jay Silverheels was marvelous as Tonto. Will Rogers was as witty as they come; I didn't realize he starred in an early version of Connecticut Yankee. Of course, Bing Crosby's version is one of my all-time favorite movies..

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 13, 2008:

And so much is going on in the Indigenous communities, it is hard to capture! Thanks so much for visiting, CS Alex.

C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on August 13, 2008:

All of this information could keep me involved for several hours chasing links. What a wonderful display of informative writing. Very impressive. C.S.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 05, 2008:

O! I just got done reading it. Thank you for the heads up - I will check it out immediately. You are very observant.

Best wishes!

SunSeven from Singapore / India on August 05, 2008:

Sent you a mail regarding something Patty. Please check

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 05, 2008:

Hi madellen; I'll certainly be glad to read your article and really look forward to it.

The next National Pow Wow will be held soon and I'll add some mateiral from that and will use your suggestion about Buffy Sante-Marie as well. Thanks so much!

madellen from British Columbia, Canada on August 05, 2008:

Lovely piece on First Nations culture, Patty. Why not add a word or two on Buffy Sainte-Maire.

I'm working on a humble article now, seven signs of a spiritual journey, insights from a canoe trip with First Nations youth and elders this summer.

Hope you'll check it out later.


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 19, 2007:

Thank you SunSeven. Your words are very encouraging! Of course, you have many wonderful Hubs yourself!

SunSeven from Singapore / India on August 18, 2007:

I hope so too Patty. You are just incredible. I am a great fan of yours.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 18, 2007:

Thanks! I hope a lot of other people write about other festivals too.

SunSeven from Singapore / India on August 18, 2007:

Wow Wow! What a great Hub!. I always like to read about different cultures and people. Thank you so much for this wonderful article. Best Regards.

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