Powwow Etiquette

powwow etiquette banner
Here is a little information to help you enjoy the Powwow and to let you know what you can expect, if this is your first time attending.
  • Be on time. The committee is doing everything possible to ensure that activities begin and run smoothly. Please cooperate in this regard.
  • Master of Ceremonies (MC) is the person who sets the tempo of the powwow.
  • Listen to the MC as he will announce the program activities.
  • Arena Director is the keeper of the arena circle.
  • Respect the traditions of each community. Ask the MC or Arena Director if you are uncertain of any etiquette during the powwow.
  • Whipman is the person that ensures that the grounds are respected and the dancers enter into the dance circle in their categories.
  • Grand Entry is when the all categories enter the arena circle, led by the flag and eagle staffs, veterans, dignitaries, and powwow royalty.
  • Flag song is the First Nation National Anthem - please stand and remove your hat if you don’t have an eagle feather in it to pay your respects.
  • Dancers wishing to reserve a space should place a blanket in that space before the dance begins. Please do not sit on someone else’s blanket unless invited. Any uncovered space is not reserved
  • Take your own chair, there is usually limited bench seating.
  • If taking pictures of the dancers, please ask the dancer first and remember common courtesy and ask permission. Group pictures are usually alright to take.
  • Pictures during feather pick-ups is not allowed. Or when a whistle blowing or fanning at the drum is taking place.
  • Dance as hard and long as you can in your category or in intertribal dances.
  • Be aware of the people behind you who may not be able to see over you – make room, step aside, sit or kneel.
  • No alcohol or drugs allowed.
  • Princesses and Warriors are the royalty representing their respected powwow community.
  • There will be veterans present. They are to be respected. Attendees are welcomed and encouraged to shake their hands.
  • Elders are encouraged to have the best seats where they can view the dancing. They should be taken care of, ensure they have assistance, snacks and drinks.
  • The MC table is the center head of the arena, not only because it holds a seat for the MC, but it is where the giveaways are arranged and announcements are posted. It is also where the flags and Eagle Staffs are posted and retrieved at the beginning and end of each session.

Thank you to Richard Jackson Jr. and Ursula R. Drynock for providing the above etiquette.