Crossroads Powwow – A Family Activity


Fargo, North Dakota.

This week’s Travel Tuesday begins a four-part series on Native Americans. A first for our area, the Crossroads Powwow focuses on the competition powwow and opens the series. In the next few weeks, we move south and explore some of the “hangouts” of ancient Native Americans in the great southwest.

The wordsmiths at tells us the term powwow, (sometimes pow wow), is a term derived from the Native American Narrangansett and Massachusett tribes, powwaw referencing an Indian priest or a dreamer of visions. Today the term references a meeting, gathering or dance. Competition powwows are an attraction not only for Native Americans, but for people of all backgrounds. By the late 20th century, the greater interest in the heritage of the Native American and the influx of prize money from sponsors, often Native American casinos, has led to a circuit of popular powwows across the country. The opening image features a father and daughter, he intent on watching the competition, her, maybe not so much.

Powwow-3Over the years, I’ve been tempted to attend a powwow just for the opportunity to see the colorful costumes and experience some of the cultural history of the country’s original residents. Over the years, the ceremonies have been either too long a drive for my available time, or I discovered that I’d missed another one. I almost missed this one, as well, learning about it from a Facebook post on Saturday night. The three-day event meant I’d already missed two-thirds of the event, leaving only Sunday afternoon’s competition as my only option. Powwows are a family affair. As we were settling in, after arriving fashionably late for the day, a procession of families was in progress around the floor of the arena.

Powwow-8Prize money is an attraction for the participants. The five women in Native American dress were the winners of one of the competitions, 5th place prize was $200, incrementing by $200 to the first place $1,000 winner on the right. The Crossroads Powwow, as this event is called, was billed as the First Annual, and is the first competition powwow to be held in Fargo, North Dakota in the almost forty years we’ve lived in the area. There were plenty of competitors, but not so many spectators this Sunday afternoon. I hope the event was successful for them as I’d like to attend again. They are a colorful and interesting event for photographers.

Powwow-2Especially interesting to me were the young people’s dances where youngsters of all age groups got to show off their “moves.” The name of the powwow is “Crossroads” for a good reason. This part of the country is central to many different Native American Tribes of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Canada. Promotional information online set an expectation of 1,000 dancers and 5,000 spectators from all over the United States and Canada. Walking through the parking lot, license plates indicated a wide participation from both Canada and the central states. In the image above, one of the youthful dancers demonstrates his skills. The gallery of images below features some of the dancers in action. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner

4 thoughts on “Crossroads Powwow – A Family Activity

  1. The only thing I saw of a powwow once was the big traffic jam that lasted for a long time. By the time it cleared up, the powwow was over, done. So your colorful photos here are very interesting to me. A vicarious experience. 🙂

  2. Cool, never been to a Pow wow before. N’s dad is a huge fan and goes to one yearly, I forget where. Narrangansat is also now a sweet, sort of molasses tasting affordable beer. I think it’s made in Rhode Island if I remember correctly.

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