Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Red Paint

The 8th Annual Red Paint Powwow was held in Silver City at the Western New Mexico University intramural gym Jan. 20 to 22. I went on the 21st.
The gourd dance was happening right when I got there. It’s a dance to honor the veterans. These veterans usually wear a type of shawl that is blue and red and they all have rattles and step to the same beat. I was surprised to see so many of them there, even a bunch of women were honored as warriors.
The grand entry brought out all the dancers in all the categories:
The traditional dancers stepped slowly. The women’s shawls whipped back and forth to the drum. The men stomped around the floor. The traditional dancers wore a more traditional outfit, no flashy bead designs and no outrageous colors.
The fancy men dancers stomped and twirled around while nodding their heads. These guys wear the large fan of feathers on their upper and lower backs. They are flashy, colorful and take up a lot of room. The fancy women are equally as flashy with leather, beaded moccasins up to their knees and intricate and colorful shawls across their shoulders.
The jingle dress dancers added another sound to the drums and singers.
The grass dance men are somewhere between the fancy men and the traditional men, their outfit is usually decorated with hundreds of strands of string, yarn or thin material.
The chicken dancers stood a little taller than most dancers because they usually have two long feathers coming from their heads.
The tots, fancy and jingle, got most of the attention. They have just as many feathers as their large counterparts, but are 10 times cuter. Some of them already have some nice steps.
Somewhere in the middle of the powwow, the Apache Devil Dancers, or Crown Dancers came out and performed.  These guys are sort of scary. They have black hoods all the way around their heads, covering their eyes and faces completely with a large white crown on their head decorated with colored symbols. On the bottom they have a belt made of loud bells holding up the leather wrapped around their waists. They are painted white with black smears.
This is Apache land and that was a protection dance.
All day the dancers danced hard. I thought it was over around 5 p.m. but they were taking a break for dinner and would start up again that night and again on Sunday morning.
It was a good experience. I saw a lot of familiar brown faces and a Hopi from Gallup who jokingly put up her fists to fight my sister and I when she found out we were Navajo and we found out she was Hopi. “Aye!”

There are four dancers representing the four directions and one in the middle representing life

Apache Devil Dancers (at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial)


  1. I haven't been to a pow wow in a long time and I really enjoyed the time we spent in Silver City for this one. I especially liked the appreciation I saw in all the spectators eyes. I liked the strength that the sound of the loud drum made me feel. Everything there felt like I knew it would seem. Don't forget about the vendors. So much jewelery and crafts. I say a lot of necklaces and rings that I wanted but...I spent most of my money on books for school.
    Overall, the pow wow was beautiful.
    Awesome sound slide!!!

  2. That is so neat that the Apache's were in the Red Paint pow-wow. I know the only time I get to see them is if I go to the Ceremonial parade in Gallup NM. The big pow-wow here in Denver is the March pow-wow. A lot of northern plains and Canadian Indians attend. I do see some southwest indians in attendance tho but not as many. I need to attend a southwest pow-wow one of these days and I hope that the Apache are in attendance.

  3. I don't remember the last time I went to a pow-wow. I do like to go to the Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial parade though. Love to go early and get a good spot with my precious mother-in-law. Drink coffee, sit and catch up on the news. They have dancers that put on really good shows and I love to see all the colorful dresses. Yeah, don't remember going to a pow-wow. Maybe some day.