Pow-Wow: Dance-Off

The Vibrant Costumes and Drum-Led Competitions of a Native American Tribal Gathering

Adorned in hawk feather headdresses and colorful ceremonial robes, generations of Siletz Indians unite to observe their tribal traditions at the annual Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow in this series from New York-based photographer Marissa Kaiser. Centered in an open conifer-lined field, the four-day pow wow in Lincoln County, Oregon, next to the Siletz Reservation has evolved into an intertribal festival featuring song, dance and a feast of native foods such as smoked fish, Indian tacos and bannock, a variation on soda bread. “It is beautiful how the tradition is kept alive and passed on from the eldest to the young kids,” notes Kaiser, whose clients include Nike, Adidas and ESPN. Often handed down from generation to generation, dance costumes are embellished with porcupine quills, beads, fur, horns, and bones, with male “fancy” dancers wearing two eye-catching feather bustles tied to their backs and female “jingle dress” dancers with small cone-shaped tin jingles fastened to their outfits. “It might have been a dance competition, but it was also a celebration,” observes Kaiser. “There wasn’t any crazy competitiveness because there was all this love and happiness and dancing.”

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Conversations (1)

  • Karla Carol'Ann
    Just a friendly reminder - The Native American (First Nations, Aboriginal People's) powwow dancers dress are not referred to as costumes but rather traditional regalia. In Canada it would be a big 'No', 'No' to refer to the traditional regalia in any other terms.
    • Posted By Karla Carol'Ann
    • September 03, 2012 at 1:26PM
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