Friday, July 8, 2011

4th Of July In Montana, Part 2. Putting The Wow In Pow-Wow.

Montana has a large Native American presence. Every year many pow-wows are held. The one in Arlee isn't one of the largest, but it was going on while we were there, so we went.

My day started with a search for my beloved triple shot of espresso. I figured my best bet was Polson, about six miles away on the south shore of Flathead Lake. There were several espresso stands, but none were open by 8:30, showing a basic lack of understanding of the holy purpose of the espresso industry and a shameful disregard for the needs of the espresso aficianado.

Though I didn't get my cuppa, I did get a panoramic shot of the expanse of Flathead Lake.

By the time we left for the pow-wow it was almost noon, and the espresso stand in Ronan 
was finally open, thank god. 
I don't know what a Hawaiian Latte is, but judging by the cost, they must fly them in from Kona 
on a per order basis. I wasn't willing to wait, so I settled for my usual triple shot 
at a more reasonable $1.75.

Tipis and snow-capped peaks. It's pow-wow season in Montana.

And what pow-wow would be complete without a sale on fox and coyote faces.

Not to mention raccoon penis bones. 
Before the pow-wow started, we had lunch. Fry bread, of course. 
We had them hold the penises.

 The pow-wow started with a procession. The regalia were amazing and colorful.

I especially liked the guy in the middle in full costume except for the backwards baseball cap.

Once everyone was in, the dancing started in earnest.

 The women were generally content to promenade and chat. I love their elaborate dresses with the bells that jingle when they walk.

 The pow-wow is about family and community as well as pageantry. 
The kids were having a blast.

 "Mom and Dad took me to the pow-wow and all I got was this silly hat."

 An hour later, the promenade was still going on, the hypnotic, unchanging rhythm of the drums
driving the sweaty participants ever forward around the circle.

 But wait, who are those wild Indians in the center? Yep. O and Josie were moved to march.

 There were so many amazing faces and costumes. 
I took over a hundred-fifty shots before we left. These are a few of the best.

It was a fascinating experience, and a glimpse into a culture I know little about. Everyone seemed to be filled with pride and enjoying the closeness of community. Interestingly, Josie's landlady, who belongs to the Flathead tribe, told us that her family was boycotting the pow-wow because the tribe had laid carpeting over the previously bare earth of the dance floor, which she felt was a government plot to keep people from connecting to the earth.

And so it goes.


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