Pow Wow 101 / Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Pow Wow?
Pow Wows are a Traditional ceremony where people come together to dance and sing in celebration of life and the living. It is a time for communities to gather together to visit, dance, sing and celebrate culture and each other.

Who can attend?
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Is there an admission fee?
No, admission is free.

Is there a dress code?
There is no dress code for audience members, however please dress modestly. For example, don’t wear your bathing suit or a t-shirt with curse words on it. You’ll probably want to wear comfortable footwear. And if you are wearing a hat, please remove it during the Grand Entry, Invocation, Honour, Memorial, Flag, Veterans, and Closing Songs.

This is my first Pow Wow. Do I have to sign up? When I arrive, where do I go?
Welcome to your first Pow Wow! No sign up or registration is required – you can just come. All guests and visitors are asked to enter the Pow Wow via the 3rd floor. When you come in through the main entrance, take the stairs directly in front of you. If you need an elevator, there is one located to the left of the stairs. Once you enter the Pow Wow, you can sit anywhere in the stands/bleachers.

Who are the key people at Pow Wows?
The Arena Director is responsible for coordinating the Dancers, Drum Groups, and Special Guests, who take part in special events and ceremonies at the Pow Wow.

The Master of Ceremony (or Emcee) is responsible for announcing the events and guiding the Pow Wow. He/she keeps the order of the Drum Groups, explains the dances and protocols, tells jokes, and announces events.

And of course, the UM Pow Wow exists to honour the Indigenous graduates. Please help us congratulate them on their successes and wish them well.

We have many Volunteers who can help answer questions. Look for the black t-shirts that say Volunteer.

What is a Grand Entry?
A Grand Entry signals the official beginning of the Pow Wow. It’s the time for the people involved to line up for a procession that brings them into the Pow Wow arena. It is lead by the Eagle Feather Staff, which, for many people, is a national symbol and flag. This Staff leads all other staffs and flags in the Grand Entry. The Eagle Staff is followed by flags (usually carried by Veterans), honoured guests, Princesses, Pow Wow organizers, dancers, and graduates.

Please stand during the Grand Entry.

I’ve been invited to be in the Grand Entry. Where do I go?
When you arrive, please go to the VIP registration table beside the stage to sign in and get your nametag. Volunteers will show you where to line up.

What are the different kinds of dances?
At Graduation Pow Wow you will see the Men’s Fancy Dress, Women’s Fancy Shawl, Men’s Traditional Dance, Women’s Traditional Dance, Jingle Dress, Grass Dance, Hoop Dance, and Red River Jig.

Later in the evening, we have a fun dance called the potato dance. So find a partner and join in the fun!

Is there a time when anybody can participate in the dancing?
If someone asks you to dance you may do so. The Master of Ceremony will invite the audience to the dance area during Intertribal songs, Honour songs, and Metis specials.

The regalia are beautiful. Am I allowed to touch?
No. Please do not touch anyone’s regalia. Please also refrain from touching other people’s hair/braids. These are all sacred and personal.

It says that the Pow Wow is an all-day event. Am I allowed to come for just part of the day?
Yes. You are welcome to come and go at any time during the day. Please check the schedule to be sure you are present for the specific parts of the days that are important to you.

How do I get to the Feast?
At about 4:30 pm, there will be a large crowd of people walking over to University Centre. The Feast is in the Multi Purpose Room (2nd floor). There will be signs to direct you there. If you require assistance to go over to the Feast, there will be a shuttle bus leaving from the west parking lot of the gym. The bus will loop back and forth between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.

After the Feast, please return to the Investors Group for the 2nd Grand Entry which begins at 7:00 pm.

Is there a schedule?
Yes, please the program or visit our website for the schedule of the day. Please note that while we try to stick to the schedule, unexpected things may come up. For example, if an Eagle Feather falls on the floor, all activity stops and there is a specific ceremony to “raise the Feather” that may take some time.

Can I take pictures?
Yes. However, do not take pictures during prayers or when the Master of Ceremonies has said not to. If you are taking pictures of dancers in regalia it is always good to ask first.

Are there any other rules I should be aware of?

  • There is no drinking or drug use allowed. Please remember that the dance area is sacred, so refrain from swearing and other negative behaviour.
  • At the U of M Graduation Pow Wow, selling crafts in the stands is prohibited.
  • The chairs on the main floor are reserved for singers and dancers.
  • Please help us keep the ceremony building clean. Put all garbage and recycling in the appropriate bins.

*Please be advised that there will be photos and videos taken during this event.