Why The Name POW-WOW

Message from the Founder

This ain’t no space about how literary the work is – but it is a revolutionary space in the sense that it’s real women not poets and yet poets telling their truth.

I didn’t start out to create the longest running weekly all women’s safe space performance venue but here we are.

I just wanted a space that embraced the spirit of native people since often times people of color can only be either or – African American, Latin American, Hispanic American, European American or Native American but not both and certainly not all, and yet so many of us are.  And it always amazes me that women and mostly women of color are the first to blast this space because of it's name like I wouldn't stop to do my homework first and ask persmission from those that may know more about native history second.  And yet on both counts I did and on both counts it has been accepted.

I just wanted a space that was generational so that torch passing happens organically and history is respected inherently

I didn’t start the space so that just about every one, male and female who has ever attended or featured at POW-WOW would post on twitter, facebook or myspace about how great this space is, but they do and it is.

I just wanted a space where women’s work was respected no matter who was in the audience. I just wanted women who had been silent because maybe their work wasn’t about rainbows and candy apples, and their family life wasn’t like the Cosby’s growing up, yet ain’t she got a right to speak as well.

I just wanted to be in a space that didn’t piss me off in the end because I had been called bitch or whore or dyke thirty times from the mic.

I just wanted a space where for once when I walked in a room other women who looked like me didn’t feel the need to body check me first (head to toe once over) ending with sucking their teeth. That we weren’t competing against, we were supporting each other.

I just wanted a space that didn’t need philosophical rhetoric describing how feminist or non – feminist we were. 

I just wanted a space that women of color and lesbians and mothers, and daughters, and white women, and men and transgendered and whomever could experience kind words for at least one part of their week.

I just wanted a space where speaking doesn’t mean talking, whether signing or dancing or playing an instrument, we hear you, loudly.

I just wanted a space where the audience was trained to know what the hell they were listening to, or for that matter they were even listening.

I just wanted a space that could bridge the gap between social service and cultural and performing arts.  So many times, all the degreed people feel that they can’t exist in the same space and yet, it does every Tuesday.  That this space is responsible for the movement of so many awareness campaigns and so many lives being saved and so many women empowering themselves and so many men becoming allies for us.

I just wanted a space that would be like the space I would have created if I had been God.



The Powwow is a gathering that reinforces the values of working together as a family and bonding as a community. Powwows are places where young people are exposed to the language, values and teachings of the elders and community.

In much of Native American life, the secular and sacred are intertwined: A Powwow is a fun social event and family reunion, while at the same time it provides a setting for spiritual enrichment through traditional rituals and individual reflection as a form of personal expression, cultural identity, physical enjoyment and worship, embodies this duality of purpose at Powwow.

Once the PowWow begins, it is run by the Master of Ceremonies (MC) and Arena Directors. The MCs provide a running commentary of events, announcements, and most importantly background information about the dances, rituals and spirit of the PowWow. The Arena Directors keep the event moving and manage the flow of activity in the arena. At any one time, they may be telling the drums who will play next and what kind of song to have ready, seeing to the accommodations of the judges, or organizing the dancers. It is an extremely active and important job.



People say you can't have a Powwow without a drum, for it carries the heartbeat. It is also felt to carry the heartbeat of Mother Earth, and thus calls the spirits and nations together.  It is said that the drum was brought to the Indian people by a woman, and therefore there is a woman spirit that resides inside the drum. Appropriately, it is to be treated with respect and care, and strict behavior is expected of anyone coming in contact with the drum. The drum is often thought to help bring the physical and mental side of a person back in touch with his or her spiritual or heart side.


















































Ron Davis, a Grass Dancer from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, says. "You hear a good song, you kind of go to your inner self, into where you had your vision. You go back to the place where you feel comfortable in your own state of mind. And nothing else around you can interrupt that. Lillian Goodeagle, a Dakota/Northern Cheyenne champion Fancy Shawl dancer, explains. "A real good song, it just comes into you. It's like in your heart, and your body, your feet, your legs, your arms--everything--is expressing that song."


The POW-WOW LOGO,  A circular framed net with a hole in the center that is used by some American Indian peoples to help block bad dreams and catch good ones.  In this case - bad words and hurtful language is blocked, while good ones and positive language pass through to the ear.  The multicolored feathers are not LGBTQ rainbow colors, but serve as double entendre - many women, many cultures, various gender identified - united by one dream - a safe place


Hokahey ochiapo, means to give each other strength, to give each other words of encouragement...gratefulness for you to be here, and gratefulness that we met today and talked, and that's what the Powwow's about. And that's exactly what will happen here. We come together Tuesday, and after it's finished we'll be going home in our directions and the Powwow will be finished. And we will go home feeling a different beginning, a different beginning that's happened."