The Commercialization of Culture

Christina Rose | Indian Country Today

Pow wows just aren’t what they used to be, according to a handful of elders across the Plains states. There was a time, not too long ago, when a pow wow was not about contests or fancy regalia, but was simply a gathering of family and friends, with homemade food, giveaways and unnamed dances.

Commercial is the word most often used to describe today’s pow wows, as opposed to traditional, as they were called on Pine Ridge, South Dakota. In the 1960s, Lydia Bear Killer, Oglala Lakota Tribal Council member, remembers going with her grandmother. “There were no contests, no categories, no concession stands.” Bear Killer said, remembering that most people spoke Lakota, and the children listened to the stories told by their grandparents.



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