Harvard Pow Wow 2018

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23rd Annual Harvard Pow Wow Embraces the Dreamers

It was Harvard Arts weekend. So many great events, never enough time to see them all. The Harvard Jazz Band conducted by the fabulous Yosvany Terry; the Zuumba Singers at Sanders Theatre; a Pow Wow at the Lesley Lawn on Brattle Street. Harvard at its multicultural best.

Saturday’s Pow Wow, as always, was joyful. Unbelievably, the weather cooperated. Craftspeople, dancers, and drummers were wearing and surrounded by more colors than the eye can register. Native Americans of every color asked, “What tribe are you,” signaling to those of us who are fortunate enough to be of mixed heritage that we are accepted. “Oh, your people are from Maine,” a lovely senior said to me when I answered that my Great Grandmother was Passamaquoddy. “Walk around, you’ll probably meet some of your people.”

The most glorious dance is the Jingle Dress Dance. It’s an Ojibwe tradition that dates back to the early 1920s, a time when the US Government was trying to suppress religious music and dance.

The Jingle Dress Dance is a healing dance. It’s performed by women who wear traditional red, blue, yellow, and green dresses that are adorned with cones that jingle as the women sway their bodies. When the dance originated, the cones were made from chewing tobacco lids or copper, but now they are available in a variety of metals including silver and gold.

Saturday’s dance was hypnotic and exhilarating, as you’ll see in the attached video. I hope it will inspire you to take time to research the Jingle Dress Dance’s origins. In doing so, you’ll probably meet some of your people.