Powwows are an important part of life for many indigenous communities and individuals in North America. They’re a way to gather and celebrate culture and subcultures, and there’s a spiritual significance to them, as well.
Some powwows award the performances of traditional dance groups, but performances are about more than competition. Traditional dances are rooted in religious beliefs and are a source of hope and spiritual expression. With powwows canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these dances won’t be shared and performed this year.
Well, at least not in person. Luckily, a woman named Tina Rosales created the Quarantine Dance Specials 2020 Facebook group, which allows indigenous people to share videos of themselves dancing while in quarantine.
Watching the videos has uplifted many who are feeling isolated, and performing the dances has been a healing activity for those who’ve posted. Movingly, participant Monica Bear observes, “I danced for everyone, not just for myself. I have four children, danced for them. My mother that is sick in the hospital, I danced to heal.”
Read on to learn more about the importance of dance in indigenous North American cultures – and how that importance echoes across our current physical isolation. And if you’d like to see some of the dances, visit the Quarantine Dance Specials 2020 Facebook page.
Image source: A still from a couples dance by Eric Ryan and Sarah Cecelia Billman, featured on the Quarantine Dance Specials 2020 Facebook page.
Contact Our Writer – Alysa Salzberg