Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2013 Idaho--Fort Hall, 50th Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival Pow Wow

Dancers at the Pow Wow

We went to the annual mountain man rendezvous in West Yellowstone, Montana last Friday, and balanced it with the 50th Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival on Saturday.

I have spent my life learning and reading and studying about the Native Peoples of this land.  I have a great reverence for the people, their cultures and their ways.  It is not my intent to marginalize them in any way with this post, or by attending the Pow Wow.  I attend the Pow Wow occasionally and always have a profound experience when I do.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown was life changing for me. 

I will Fight No More Forever by Merrill D. Beal was also a profound experience.  I have read it more than once

Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas by Mari Sandoz is still one of my favorite books. Crazy Horse and Chief Joseph are among my heroes. 

We met up with my two daughters and four grandsons at the rest area in Hell's Half Acre Lava Flow.  There is a 3/4 mile paved trail through the lava flow with interpretive materials throughout.  It's an easy trail and I like to walk it from time to time.  Usually when we are driving through we are in too big of a hurry to stop.  That means it's something we have to plan for.

I love the lava flows in the upper valley.  It's a good thing too because the whole of the Snake River Plain is covered with them.  Volcanism is the defining geologic feature around here.  I've always thought the lava flows at Hell's Half Acre would make a spectacular movie location.

The family at the trailhead

The flow as the trail begins

Pahoehoe.  Besides being cool to look at it's also cool to say

A collapsed lava tube

Some of the fam on the trail

The rest of the fam on the trail

This gives an idea of how large the flow is.  It's called Hell's Half Acre, but the flow really covers over two hundred square miles.

What a four hundred year old juniper looks like

Crack in the earth

Another collapsed tube
From the lava flow, we continued on to Fort Hall Indian Reservation for the Pow Wow.  This particular festival has grown into one of the largest Pow Wow's in the nation.  It's a big deal.  There were representatives from tribes all over North America.  Dancers and Singers. 

We got there in time to see part of the grand entrance.  It started out with a color guard made up of Native American veterans of all branches of the service.  They were dressed in their military uniforms but also wore traditional headdresses and paint.  These men stood at attention for the entire grand entrance which lasted almost an hour.  When the grand entrance was over, the MC excused the dancers and the men of the color guard carried the colors around the circle a few more times, accompanied by Iron Boy, the host drum.  As they marched and danced around the arena, they fired their guns in the air.  It was a solemn ceremony and one of great respect.

After that, the dancers came back to the arena and the judging began.  There were prizes in the thousands of dollars for dancers, drums and outfits.  This was a big deal.  I wanted to document this with photographs and I was careful to ask people if I could photograph them.  One man said no and I respected his wishes.  Most, though said yes. 

There were vendors and food vendors around the dance arena and we walked around to see what there was to see.  I was really there to see the dancers and hear the drums though.  That was what I focused on.

When we came the first few times to this festival, it was all done in the open air on a dirt field.  The Shoshone-Bannock combined tribes have spent a great deal of money on the dance arena to make it more comfortable.  They did a first class job of it.  There is a giant iron gazebo with a net roof which shades but still allows enough sunlight in to see well.  The spectators are shaded and there is thick grass on the dance floor.  They did a really nice job on it.  There was room for hundreds of dancers and hundreds of spectators under the gazebo.
Color guard






This guy was really nice, he allowed me to photograph him and then he
visited with us for about fifteen minutes.  He's fully invested in the
21st century but he celebrates his cultural heritage.  Really enjoyed talking
with him.

Man in his regalia

Man in his regalia

Couple in their regalia.  I liked the modern designs rendered in a
traditional style in his outfit.

Girl in her "Jingle" outfit
When I hear the music of the plains peoples I get hypnotized.  I told my sons and my grandsons that the songs they were hearing had been sung on the plains for hundreds of years without variation.  I love being able to go to the Pow Wow.  It is spiritual for me.

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