An outsiders not so serious reflections on my first pow wow experience…

So yesterday I went to the a pow wow held at the Barona Indian reservation with a couple of friends.  It was the first pow wow I have actually attended. These are some not-so-serious reflections, highlights, and thoughts I had regarding this experience.

Frybread: Where have you been all of my life.


Jingle Dresses: The movement of the jingle dresses reminded me of hulu grass skirts in that they really accentuate motion. Native girls are known for having no, shall we say, “junk in the trunk” so this is probably a good thing. Wear jingle dresses ladies.

Cultural Fusion: Anytime this kid walked by in full-regalia except for his Shark’s baseball hat I was just like, “Pick a side and go all in!  Don’t go half-way!”

Men’s Fancy Dance: When the men’s fancy dance was featured I was reminded of a flock of peacocks all vying for the attention of the females.  Peacocks with neon feathers that is.

I also thought to myself, “How many neon birds must die for you to look fly!?” in my best Dave Chappelle voice.

Quotation of the Night:

Emmy: “Kevin, you should nail down a Native girl (as a wife) and then grown out your hair long again.”

Chelsea: “Not necessarily in that order.”

Kevin’s Inner Monologue: #wisdom, #lifegoals, and then…


Host Drummers: These men have titanic vocal strength and endurance. I might be able to beat them in a round of Karaoke (especially due to my Filipino ethnic advantage) but I would definitely not be able to sing that loud for that long. So…


65+ Women’s Dancers: An equal tie for my favorite group of dancers in the night it was fun watching the elder women dance.  Also, this is probably the only group of dancers that I could have kept up with.  I have a Dutch handicap when it comes to dancing.  I kind of dance like Buster from Arrested Development.  I’m not even kidding.

Jingle Dress Winner: She was from Manteca (30 minutes from my hometown) and Emmy and Chelsea were trying to get me to hit on her.  I pulled a “Shy Ronnie” and just snapped a picture of her when she was not looking.  Brave I know. My courage knows no limits.



Non-Native People at Pow Wows: There were a lot of non-Native people at the pow wow and being around this culture that was so foreign to me I really felt like an outsider.  It struck me as sort of odd and I could see how this dynamic could feel very touristy in a kinda of weird way.  Like, “Hey we took all your land and stuff, but wow your culture is amazing!”

Can I pass as Native?: As the night progressed and my friends saw more Native American people my ability to pass as Native was initially downgraded, but then upgraded. The Jingle-Dress winner could have easily passed for Filipino.

And I shall close with this…

Dances with Wolves: I know there is like a massive eye-roll among Natives when Dances with Wolves is the only point of reference mainstreamers have in regards to Native culture, but there was a tame wolf at the pow wow.  Not helping yourself out there too much. Just saying.

About Speakfaithfully

I am figuring out life and faith and taking other people along with me on my journey. Sometimes as fellow travelers, sometimes as hostages.
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