Monday, May 2, 2016

Wowed

 I spent Friday at the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque.



 I've always wanted to attend this annual event but for one stupid reason 
or another, never have until now.   



 I can't believe I've been missing out on this
all these years.



 Around 2,800 dancers from 700 tribes in the United States and Canada gather
to compete and celebrate and generally knock the socks off of everyone
who goes there to watch.



I took my camera, not knowing what to expect.



The event is held at the University of New Mexico basketball arena, 
and I figured I'd be too far away to shoot anything decent.



But I wandered down to the floor level, tried to stay out of everyone's way,
and merrily took about 400 pictures in an hour's time.



I was standing next to a bank of loudspeakers, otherwise I would have
snapped away all afternoon. Ringing ears were a small price to pay
for being so close to the action.



The dancers' regalia was nothing short of amazing.
I got bopped in the head a few times by these feathers 
but didn't mind a bit.



This is the same dancer's headpiece from the back.



All the dancers' outfits were handmade and adorned with unique combinations of
beadwork, feathers, pelts, feathers, jingles, feathers, claws, feathers,
quills, feathers, ribbons, bones, fringe, horns... and then more feathers.
Every single one was a work of art.



The dancers compete by age group and type of dance.
I couldn't figure out the steps or the patterns or why one dancer
was better or worse than the others, but it didn't affect my enjoyment one bit.
I do know it was impossible not to move my own feet
to the mesmerizing beats of the drummers.




At the end of each dance, the participants congratulated each other.
The female dancers shook hands...



...the male dancers high-fived.



I was so intrigued by the headpieces that I didn't get many pictures
of the dancers' feet,



many of which jingled from seed pods or bells.












I didn't notice the bird on this dancer's head when I took the picture.















Albuquerque is famous for another annual event – the Balloon Fiesta –
but now having been to both, I prefer the Gathering of Nations.

And did I mention the shopping? 


I came home with this box made of buffalo hide,



a necklace,



and a flying war horse, 
say nothing of the unforgettable memories from being able 
to share in a celebration of Native American culture.


44 comments:

  1. OMG...fantastic photos. That pow wow has been on my bucket list for years. Your pictures gave me chills. Thank you

    Emily in NC

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  2. Very cool pictures! Next year take ear plugs with you and happy picture taking! :)

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  3. WOW! Your photos are amazing as was your account of the event. Love the goodies you brought home too. The Cherokee have such an event, on a smaller scale, of course, and I've always wanted to go ... Now I will!!!

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  4. Those are awesome costumes. I've been to a couple of pow wows, but nothing like that.

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  5. Diane K. Eastern NC5/2/16, 5:06 AM

    Awesome images Carson. Attended a small Pow Wow once and was blown away by their unbelievable costumes and talent. Your images captured that as well. So glad you went and shared it with us.

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  6. Yes, WOW! And a photographer's heaven. Way to go for the good angles. Love how you finished the shots off for the final product. Isn't digital the best thing that ever happened to cameras?!

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  7. Magnificent! I'll have to look at them many more times through the day because I know there are things I missed. What a wonderful trip!

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  8. wowing and amazing and stunning costumes.. i would really love to see and hear this.

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  9. Gorgeous photos! thank you for sharing them here. It looks like an amazing gathering.

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  10. I've always wanted to go, but I've heard it's so crowded with thousands upon thousands of people that you can't really 'see anything'! I'm curious how you got so close to the dancers? Must investigate further...
    You images are breathtaking.

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  11. I agree with everyone. Fantastic pictures. I'd love to see that someday. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. The costumes are GORGEOUS! Works of art. The colors alone blow me away. Super photography, girl.

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  13. Wow, indeed! Now I want to go to that celebration too. Perhaps another year as we travel from Arizona to Wisconsin. Thanks for sharing all that beauty.

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  14. Absolutely beautiful ... STUNNING ... pictures!! I'm going to share this with friends in SD on Facebook. Thanks for sharing this with us, Linda!
    Hugs from Colorado ... Marcia

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  15. Unbelievable how much time and creativity it must have taken to make these outfits. Those pictures are all frameable. I love all of the colors.

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  16. Just the best photos ever. I've been to several 'dances' while living in NM, but this one is still on my list. Best thing about the local dances are the shared feasts after. Sure do miss NM.

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  17. Dazzling array, beautifully captured. Thank you for going and sharing. Wonderful.

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  18. Your pictures captured all the wonderful color, detail and action. Plus all the beautiful faces. Just wow. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  19. I absolutely love going to pow wows. We don't have many here in Idaho though. I used to go more often when I lived near Abq. I had a friend who was a great dancer. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful photos!

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  20. Very beautiful! The colors are amazing...
    Isn't the 8th photo the Dad that danced in place of his son who was killed in a horse accident?
    Love the photos of the kids and everyone's dedication to their culture.

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    1. Good eye - that is Tommy Draper, the dad. The picture before the buffalo box is also him.

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  21. With all the "crap" on TV these days, why isn't something like this televised on National TV? I would watch this over any of the reality TV stuff offered!! Thanks for the peek of history!

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    1. It was streamed live on the internet - just checked the link and you can watch the whole thing for free here:
      http://www.powwows.com/video/

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  22. We have a MUCH smaller Pow Wow in Cosby TN in the fall, sponsored by the Cherokee Nation. While there are no tribes having reservation land in Tennessee (so we have no casinos), they come to our little county and really give us a show. There were even Hawaiian dancers last fall. Such beauty, such grace, wild color, leather and feathers and sharing all this with all who care to watch. Yours is stunning, much larger, better photo ops too. Thanks for sharing your great photos.

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    1. Wow! Cosby Tennessee! I've been there more than twenty years ago now....stopped there on a whim. Never forgot your beautiful little town:)

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  23. I am mesmerized ... I found I was even holding my breath as I went by those beautiful pictures. Wow! Thank you for sharing that day.

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  24. Wow! Thank you for all the photos, spectacular! Love your goodies, too! :)

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  25. Michelle from Vancouver5/2/16, 9:08 AM

    Amazing pics

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  26. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and the link to watch the whole thing. I've been to just one smaller gathering--the Red Paint Powwow in Silver City some years back--and the drums and singing and dancing literally and absolutely took my breath away.

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  27. Amazing photos! I've always wanted to go too. Hopefully, next year! Thanks for sharing. I'm in awe!

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  28. Spectacular - something most of us will never see in person. Your photos are first class. Thank you for sharing

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  29. The headdresses the men wear are called "roaches"... made from either fiber, deer hair or the white with black tipped porcupine quills. The chest pieces are now made from bugle beads, but we're made from bone, long ago, as a wardressing. The men do a dance called " fancy dancing", where they have lots of ribbons that fly out as they spin. Then, they also have the dances where they squat down low, in imitation of grouse, or animal hunting rituals. The Women dance jingle dress, which has tiny metal cones, sewn onto their dress, each cone signifying a prayer...there's supposed to be one for each day of the year. The fancy shawl ladies have beautiful shawls that have long fringe on the edges and embroidery or quilting, that shows as they dance, like butterflies, and then, there's the more traditional and sedate "rabbit" dance...that has a folded shawl over the arm and a prayer fan made of feathers and beads. I love going to powwows. They are just beautiful and dances are prayers. There's now dance circuits that are traveled around the country, for prize money. It's many families needed source of income. Reservations are poor. Not much of the casino cash actually gets to the average native American on the Rez. Commodity foods from the government actually are those that promote diabetes in native DNA. But without it, they have tough times getting enough to eat. Suicide in teens is higher there than in national surveys. The cultures are different from tribal group to another, but all have many talented artists and musicians, writers, and intelligent people. They truly have an incredible wealth of history and experience. I'm Cherokee and Irish..which is fairly common from my original state of Tennessee. I grew up hearing stories from both my maternal and paternal grandmothers about their native ways. Glad you had a good time at the PowWow..!!!

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    1. Thank for all of this information. I loved the jingle dresses and had no idea that each one signified a prayer.

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  30. Anne Boleyn5/2/16, 10:40 AM

    Absolutely puts the WOW in pow wow! Thank you!

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  31. Beautiful pictures!! What an event to see! Will have to put that on my bucket list for sure. Thanks for taking sure beautiful photographs! I bet it was tough to figure out which ones to post. :)

    Sydney
    N.E. Oklahome

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  32. Beautiful pictures, Carson. We have an annual powwow at our Trail of Tears Commemorative Park,(on a much smaller scale) in September. I, like you, didn't understand the meaning behind the dances, but could tell they were very meaningful to the dancers. Thanks to Comancheshadow for her insight. Thanks for sharing!

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  33. Amazing stuff. Such breath-taking photos. I'll bet the event was fantastic.

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  34. I was lost for words.. They are amazing, colorful, and wonderful !! Glad you went and take pictures.. Thank you !!

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  35. I am late to the party after a relaxing four day weekend. These photos are stunning in every way! Thank you for sharing. I bet you had goose bumps. I have goose bumps looking at all the beauty.

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  36. Wonderful pics! Thank you!

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  37. An American in Tokyo5/16/16, 6:19 PM

    WOW!! I'm going to have to watch it later. Thanks for the link!!
    I'm so jealous that you can attend this kind of event in person!!
    The costumes are soooooooooooooooooo beautiful!!

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