Please see the tips above for pow-wow etiquette, what is allowed, what is please not allowed or brought to the festival. Basically mid-spring to November is "Pow-wow Season", and others travel from each dancing and singing, bringing their drums, tents and outdoor gear along just like our people did in the past.
A good website overall to learn about many things Native American, but also with local event listings for Alabama.
A listing of pow-wows specifically in Alabama, the next is at Ditto Landing June 2. It's a nice one too, been there a few times as its less than 5 minutes from my parents home on the Tennessee River. Contact Betty Abbou if you have any questions at all about this event or Native Americans in general. She is a tremendous NA advocate and personal friend of our family. 256 880 8987
Many, many pow-wows upcoming in Tennessee in 2006. It would be a great opportunity for visitors and everyone to get an upclose and personal view of the Peoples. I list it here also because the borders of AL and TN meet, and its quite easy to drive up or over for a day or two if you happen to live or are visiting Alabama. I have friends in the area who will be attending these one, and the ones in AL, MS and GA, as I used to be part of a drum, Little Turtle, based out of Huntsville, AL, but travel around during season. If you wish to have contact information for them, just let me know.
Am a member of this tribe through my grandmother, but unfortunately they take a break during July and August, and their next will be at the beginning of September in Rome, GA, not far from Atlanta. They are a smaller tribe that attends other more popular ones in other places during July and August. It's really the height of the pow-wow season then :-)
What is a pow-wow? Its a celebration, a sharing of cultures, a great opportunity for non-Native Americans to learn about American Indian life, stories, dances, music and beliefs. Many pow-wows these days are open to the public, but there are certain restrictions that should be respected when ones attend, for during certain ceremonies and rituals people are asked not to take photos, example of these would be Grand Entry and some traditional Men's dances, but this is southeast style. Other tribes have different styles.
Also a matter of styles, are those used in Smudging, or the burning of certain herbs to create a cleansing smoke bath, for purifying, ceremonial and ritual spaces. Sage is commonly used in the southeastern tribes, a cloying odor, invigorating yet soothing at the same time. Sweetgrass is also used, helping to disperse any bad spirits that might arise, it is sharp and rather citrusy. Whenever we have meetings, even small gatherings, we begin with smudging. When we part company we end with smudging. If it is done correctly, it can bring physical, emotional and spiritual balance. IF you are invited into the circle, you will notice sacred smoke burning at its opening, it is to cleanse you before you enter.
Men's Dances: Men's Traditional, Men's Straight, Men's Grass, Men's Fancy
Men's Traditional is just like the name states, an older style dance and dress using sacred eagle feathers and bustles with bone breast plates over leather outfits. The steps are deliberate, as if moving into battle or hunting for game. You will notice dancers with eyes on the ground symbolically searching for enemies. Men's Straight is Southern style of traditional, coming for the formal war dance. Woven garters are wore on the legs, woven sashes at the waist.
Men's Grass is also traditional, brightly coloured outfits long fringed at sleeves, very flowing to resemble the long grass fields. Traditionally these dancers came first, trampling down the grasses to prepare for the circle dance. Swaying at shoulders, arms, legs, hips, its a vigourous rhythmic, flowing dance.
Men's Fancy, is a new dance, coming after the 1930s, bright colorful bustles decorated with feathers and beads, steps are fast, intricate, whirling following the changing beats of the drums. Its almost a game between the dancers and drummers, for the dancers must stop at teh exact moment of the drum. They have to be completely submerged in the beat, to do so. Fascinating dance requiring much endurance and strength, leaping, kneeling, twirling.
Women's Dances: Women's Buckskin, Women's Southern Cloth, Women's Fancy Shawl, Jingle Dress
Some of these are newer dances, for gatherings of Native Americans on this scale had been forbidden by the USA government at various times. In the 1930s was a strong revival of traditional ways and new dances were created.
Women's Buckskin is traditional, dresses made of buckskins decorated with bone, beads, shells and trade beads, as well as fringes and furs. Regalia depends on taste and tribe. Its a slow, graceful dance of steps, toe-heel, toe-heel, making the fringe sway to the drum. Women carry a feather fan and long-fringed shawl for completion. Women's Southern Cloth is very similar, the dress is made of cloth and ribbon work, memories of the times when Native Americans were not allowed to hunt, to gather skins for clothing. Usually these dancers dance together, mothers, married women, elders.
Women's Fancy Shawl is always very colorful, a new style dance. Dresses are cloth and sometimes covered with a vest of contrast colour, dancer's carry a long-fringed shawl held with arms wide, swirling, lifting as if they are birds, butterflies, dancing on the wind! The steps are very intricate requiring great endurance and energy. Usually danced by girls and younger women.
Jingle Dress Dance, is a sacred dance, traditional. Dress is made of cloth with jingles or bells of tin, 365 for each day of the year, each a prayer. This dance was seen in a vision long ago also taking great endurance and strength by the dancer. Many of these dresses are lovingly taken care of, passed down generation to generation.
Some Important Things to Know:
1. Listen to the Emcee, the man on the mic that gives out all information needed, what is taking place and when, if photos are not allowed, etc. During break times for meals, and for dancers to rest, he also entertains the people. If you have any questions, you are always welcome to go to him and ask.
2. The center of the Powwow is the circle, only go in if invited, it is to be treated with honor and respect. It is closed except for the opening facing east from whence Grand Entry comes. Never cross the border of the circle, or walk across it to get to the other side. You enter walking forward and to your left at all times, only certain times is this different. As on the photo, the men at the end of the dance are walking backwards. It is a warrior's dance, therefore, two warriors are required to guard the back of all others at all times.
3. The clothing is called "regalia" not costumes, we are not dressing up for a show but for a ceremony and dancing. Please do not touch or take pictures without permission, everything has a meaning, and certain objects are not to be photographed. But most will let you provided you ask first.
4. The Drum is sacred and represents the Mother Earth, woman, therefore only men can touch the drum. In some tribes like my own, women are allowed to use hand drums and even to play the "honor beat" the seven sharp strikes of a drum counterpoint to the steady drumming. The large drum is a wood base over whichis stretch hide, buffalo, deer, or cow, struck with covered mallets.
5. Drugs, firearms, alcohol and politics are forbidden on powwow grounds, it is a time for celebration and dancing. There is a proper time and place for such things.
It may seem like a lot of rules, there are others, but these are the general ones, and only in place as a matter of respect for traditions. Remember you are the guests, it is as if coming into a Native American village, one respects, simply that.
This particular tip is typical only in Fort Rucker. For years, as the seasons changed, and holidays came and went ~ so was this bear dressed appropriately for each occasion! Today we found him in his PT uniform. He has many outfits painted on him each holiday to include a St Patrick's Day suit and July 4th Patriot outfit.
Who´s the most famous celebrity from Alabama? Is it Courteney Cox starring in NBC´s hit series 'Friends'? She is from Birmingham. Or basketball star Charles Barkley from Leeds, AL.? Baseball´s Hank Aaron from Mobile, AL.? Singer Lionel Richie from Tuskegee, AL.? Or astronaut N. Jan Davis from Huntsville, AL.? Well, they are all quite famous. But for me the biggest celebrity from Alabama is not even a real person. It´s a fictional hero. His name? Forrest Gump. He´s from '´bama', too. And he proved to the rest of the world, that a simple man can make it to the top. A true celebrity...
Driving back-and-forth from Mobile to McIntosh every day, I was struck by the number and variety of churches. Some are obviously well-endowed and well attended. While others are just getting by. You could easily spend a day on the highway studying the various alternatives.
Three important things to remember:
1. Y'all is just a contraction of You and all. It is already plural, and does not need an 's'. Don't over do it by addressing one person as y'all. We use 'you' just like everyone else.
2. Not everyone from Alabama is a redneck. I'm not denying their existence, but I promise- I was raised there and I do not have an accent.
3. Someone said that Alabamians favored the one fingered salute while driving. That's definitely not true. I see it so much more in Atlanta, even though that kind of gesture will get you in serious trouble.
You might try to match the big smile you'll get when you approach someone. One way of greeting you in Alabama is the one finger wave. If you're in a rural area nine times our of ten the driver you meet will raise his right index finger from the steering wheel and that's our way of saying Hi Y'all. Don't make fun of how we speak in the south! I lived in other states and you sounded as funny to me as we do to you.
Being in the South you'll receive such good service at eateries, etc. you'll wnat to leave a generous tip.
Mardi Gras is a big deal in Mobile. They get all antsy if you say 'New Orleans has the best Mardi Gras' or 'I'm just driving through to Mardi Gras.' Mardi Gras is a big deal among all of the Acadien towns, but Mobile prides itself that it has nearly all of the fun without a lot of the debauchery. I don't know if that's true, but it's best just to nod and smile and promise that you'll be back next year.
For international travelers the side roads show the real live in alabama there are some someplaces that you have to take care when traveling on side roads. with care is a enjoyable trip. there is real change from city to country worth the visit
the original battle house hotel was built on the site of general andrew jackson's headquarters...more
This is a nice hotel in a very nice part of town. I originally planned to stay at an airport hotel...more
the drury inn & suites is a very good moderately priced hotel located south of downtown. the drury...more