Etiquette & FAQ

This powwow is a cultural celebration that you have been invited to attend. On this page, you will find explanations of some of the details to ensure that you do not, by mistake, offend anyone or appear disrespectful. If you have a question that isn't answered below, please contact us.

Contact the committee

Attending the event

Attending the powwow and festival activities does not cost money. Parking is also free.

We recommend you bring cash for vendors:

  • Art and craft will be for sale by approved vendors
  • Food will be for sale by approved vendors
  • Official event adult t-shirts will be for sale

Pre-April 9th events are free except for Red Sky Performance: TRACE

Chairs around the perimeter of the dance arena are reserved for the dancers. 

Do not sit chairs around the drums and allow at least 10 feet of space if choosing to sit near a drum. 

All other areas are open seating. You are welcome to bring your own chairs and sit comfortably where you can find an open space. 

Please be aware when finding your place to sit, to avoid obstructing the dancer’s pathway or standing in front of someone who is preparing to dance or those singing.

Volunteers will be available for guidance. 

Why?

If you've attended in recent years, you've likely been inside the Lied Center, sat in audience seats, and watched the powwow on the stage. We're excited to bring the powwow experience outside, but there will now be limited seating.

Yes, we invite everyone to attend this family-friendly event!

This day-long and family-friendly event welcomes the KU, Lawrence, and surrounding communities to participate, share experiences, make connections, and learn more about the traditions, culture, history, and contemporary topics relating to the Indigenous People of North America. 

Throughout the day there will be several children's activities and interactive experiences; visit our schedule for details.

While all events and activities on April 9th are free, there will be vendors selling goods for purchase. We recommend having cash in the event a vendor does not have a card reader.

There is no ATM on-site.

In addition to arts and craft vendors, official merchandise for the KU FNSA Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival will be for sale online prior to the event and on April 9th.

In-Person on April 9:

  • Adult T-Shirts

Online Store is now closed. It was open from March 9-March 28.

  • Adult T-Shirts
  • Adult Sweatshirts
  • Children's Shirts
  • Tote Bags

Guests should not bring professional DSAL cameras to the event. Instead, please plan on using your personal phone to take photos or videos and follow the directions of the emcee as they will inform you of the appropriate times when cellphone cameras are permitted. 

  • Please note that there are times during the powwow when photographs, audio recordings, or video are not permitted.
  • Do not take photographs of children unless you ask the parents’ permission. This is for safety purposes.
  • Do not take pictures or videos of dancers or their regalia outside of the arena unless you ask first and are granted permission. There are cultural property rights associated with the songs, the dancer's designs, clothing, and other parts of the regalia.

Members of the press or professional photographers wishing to take photos or video must be approved by the Organizing Committee and display the provided credentials at all times. If you would like to obtain photographer credentials for this event, please contact us at kupowwowfestival@gmail.com.

The committee has implemented these policies to reduce the number of professional cameras at the event for the safety of our dancers and guests, along with the protection of our Indigenous speakers. It is not appropriate to take the knowledge of Native culture and produce a video, story, especially without gaining permission from the individual knowledge keeper. This is considered a form of cultural exploitation that has been practiced by the non-Native community and is harmful to Tribal communities.  

Pets are not permitted at our event except for service animals assisting an individual with a disability.

Understanding Powwow

If you would like to learn more about powwows, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

Join local Indigenous consultant and historian, Jancita Warrington (Menominee, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk Nations), as she provides an overview of powwows. Jancita will describe powwow songs, dance styles and provide a brief explanation of cultural regalia represented by each dance.

Powwows are Tribal celebrations of community and spirituality steeped in tradition and protocol. It is a cultural celebration to which you have been invited and the Tribal protocols used were founded and used for thousands of years to carry on the way of life for Tribal peoples.  

Historically powwows were gatherings and tribal dances only practiced and attended by communities from which they derived. As American Indians lands were taken and they were forcibly moved onto reservations, the culture and particularly dancing was prohibited and outlawed by United States government laws and regulations. 

Ironically, the origin of the intertribal powwow was first held in Lawrence, KS in 1926 at the Dedication of the Haskell Stadium and first Tribal WWI Memorial. The funds raised to build the Haskell Stadium which became historic by establishing first lighted stadium in the Midwest, bringing night games to this part of the country and the first Tribal WWI Memorial came entirely from donations of Tribal peoples. The dedication event was organized and sponsored by the U.S. government, in direct conflict of its regulations prohibiting Tribal singing and dancing. 

At the 1926 Dedication, the first World Championship of Men’s Fancy Dance was advertised and held. A man, Agustus (Gus) McDonald from the Ponca Nation won this title and carried it back to his Tribe in Oklahoma. The Ponca Nation of Oklahoma still holds a World Championship of Fancy Dance contest every year at their powwow to honor this tradition founded at Haskell’s 1926 Dedication. Today, the Haskell Stadium and WWI Memorial Archway remains a powerful and symbolic place as it became an intertribal symbol of Indian identity. 

Powwows remain a Tribal social event, like a big family reunion where everyone comes to renew acquaintances, celebrate, singing, and dancing to keep the traditions alive. Tribal culture cannot be studied in theory and picked back up at a later time. It must be constantly practiced to teach the next generation and to assure it not only survives but thrives. Since the turn of the twentieth century, it has evolved and developed into a highly kinetic form of expression and some of the most elaborate forms of contemporary performance art you will experience. 

If you would like to learn more about powwow, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

Each Tribal Nation displays a variety of cultural clothing, specific to their identities in relation to the specific dance they wish to honor and express. Each dancer displays individual artistry by envisioning their own form of regalia. 

Each dancer's regalia is handmade and consists of specific elements of clothing and accessories that have the personal meaning as each was created specifically for the individual. The designs used, colors selected and stitching have a deep symbolic meaning and carry significance in themselves. They are not to be replicated and never mass-produced. There are cultural property rights associated with the songs, the dancer's designs, clothing, and other parts of the regalia. Do Not attempt to take pictures without their permission or use the pictures to make a profit. This is considered disrespectful and a form of cultural exploitation. Please respect the culture we are here to share it, but it is not for anyone to take. 

Do not touch any part of the regalia including feathers, drums, sticks, clothing, jewelry, or accessories of the dancers. They are not objects to be explored. Many are fragile having been handed down from their ancestors of various generations.

Do not take pictures or videos of dancers or their regalia outside of the arena unless you ask first and are granted permission.

If you would like to learn more about powwow, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

The powwow begins with Grand Entry, led by the Color Guard and all participating dancers. It is respectful to stand, as instructed, and remove your hat whenever the Eagle Staff is brought into and retired from the arena. 

The Grand Entry procession is led by the Eagle Staff. The Eagle Staff represents our warriors, our elders, our nations, and way of life. Immediately entering the area behind the Eagle Staff will be the Color Guard who are honored veterans carrying various flags. These flags may include Tribal Nations’ flags, the American flag, the POW-MIA flag (Prisoners of War- Missing in Action), the branches of services flags, and any other they wish to represent. Followed by the flags you will see War Mothers’ Societies and women’s auxiliary members of various American Legion posts.

Then if any Tribal Royalty are present, they will follow behind the color guard and auxiliary members. Coming in behind them you will find the head man and head woman dancers.

Next, you will see a procession of the dancers arranged by age and dance style. This will be led by the Men Traditional, Grass, Chicken, and Fancy Dancers, then the Women Traditional, Jingle, and Fancy Shawl Dancers. The children enter last to complete the circle. 

As they dance, the dancers in the Arena create a circle. This is symbolic of the circle of life all humans experience. Honoring the sanctity of life gives testimony to the Creator and to all the ancestors that we accept our responsibility to carry this way of life for the next 7 generations.

You will be asked to stand if able, during the opening start of the event called the Grand Entry, the closing song, and other types of honoring songs. The Emcee will provide instructions if you are asked to stand.

KU FNSA Powwow's grand entry will be at 12:00pm and 6:00pm

If you would like to learn more about powwow, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

Men’s Northern and Southern Traditional, Grass Dance, Chicken Dance, and Fancy Bustle 

Women’s Northern & Southern Traditional, Woodland Applique, Jingle, and Fancy Shawl  

If you would like to learn more about powwow, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

Intertribal Dances

Intertribal songs can be very old or very contemporary. During Intertribal dances, all dancers, including any visitors including those in street clothes may dance. Intertribal songs allow all nations, styles, ages, and genders to dance together. In the circle we are all equal. The Emcee will announce which songs are intertribal dance and when you may participate. You may choose to join and participate in as many intertribal dances as you wish.

If you would like to learn more about powwow, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

It is better to ask questions and become educated then it is to assume anything about the culture based on American values. 

You can ask questions as you try to learn about the culture and find ways to show respect. Please be mindful there is a distinct line between culture and religion. Culture is social and religion is not. There are some questions that one may not be able to answer because that component is considered to be sacred, or a form of Tribal knowledge protected by the Tribal community it descends from. Show respect and accept that answer may be no I cannot or will not answer that question and move on to the next question or end the conversation by saying “okay thank you for your time.” 

If you would like to learn more about powwow, we recommend you attend the Educational Speaker Event: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion

Guests should not bring professional DSAL cameras to the event. Instead, please plan on using your personal phone to take photos or videos and follow the directions of the emcee as they will inform you of the appropriate times when cellphone cameras are permitted. 

  • Please note that there are times during the powwow when photographs, audio recordings, or video are not permitted.
  • Do not take photographs of children unless you ask the parents’ permission. This is for safety purposes.
  • Do not take pictures or videos of dancers or their regalia outside of the arena unless you ask first and are granted permission. There are cultural property rights associated with the songs, the dancer's designs, clothing, and other parts of the regalia.

Members of the press or professional photographers wishing to take photos or video must be approved by the Organizing Committee and display the provided credentials at all times. If you would like to obtain photographer credentials for this event, please contact us at kupowwowfestival@gmail.com.

The committee has implemented these policies to reduce the number of professional cameras at the event for the safety of our dancers and guests, along with the protection of our Indigenous speakers. It is not appropriate to take the knowledge of Native culture and produce a video, story, especially without gaining permission from the individual knowledge keeper. This is considered a form of cultural exploitation that has been practiced by the non-Native community and is harmful to Tribal communities.  

Acts that are considered inconsiderate or disrespectful to the culture

Drugs and alcohol are strictly forbidden on powwow grounds. Violators will be removed.

A powwow is not a form of entertainment, it is a way of life. Collectively the elements of the powwows displayed in song and dance are prayers to the Creator, honoring and celebrating spirituality and freedom, and a connection to the past, present and future.

Do not refer to the dancer’s regalia as a costume. This is not a show, and the dancers are not dressing up to become something or someone else. 

There are cultural property rights associated with the songs, the dancer's designs, clothing, and other parts of the regalia. Do not attempt to take pictures without their permission or use the pictures to make a profit. This is harmful, disrespectful and a form of cultural exploitation. There have been various forms of cultural exploitation that have been found to be harmful to Tribal Nations in the United States. Congress has passed federal laws like the Native American Religious Freedoms Act and the Native American Arts and Crafts Act to name a few to address this issue. It is a shared Cultural Property right, and we are here to share and educate about it. It is not for anyone outside of the culture to take, produce or profit from. Please respect Indigenous cultures.

Don’t touch the drums, dancers, or their regalia. They are not specimens or museum pieces to be studied, they are human beings with a distinct culture and way of life. Respect people’s bodies and personal space as we would in any public social setting.

Pointing with a finger, particularly the index finger, is considered impolite. If you must indicate a specific individual, do so with the eyes or a nod of the head.

Dress appropriately as this is a family environment setting that you have been invited to. Cover yourself properly – this is not the club. Short skirts, heels, tube tops, cropped tops, or other clothing styles that expose a majority of the skin are not considered appropriate. 

Do not take photographs of children unless you ask the parents’ permission. This is for safety purposes. 

Do not take pictures or videos of dancers or their regalia outside of the arena unless you ask first and are granted permission.  

Jancita Warrington

The knowledge on this page was prepared by and shared by Jancita Warrington. We encourage you to attend Jancita's Educational Speaker Session: Powwow 101 at 11:00am in the Lied Center Pavilion.


Jancita Warrington
Menominee, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk Nations