American Indian Heritage

In Celebration of Native American Heritage Month 2016


Please view the following events hosted by the Native American Student Association and/or the Office of Intercultural Engagement.

Native Talkers, Wednesday, November 9th at 4-6pm in EUC 062

A Panel Discussion with Native students as they talk about their respective tribes and discuss their personal experiences as Native students. Hosted by the Native American Student Association. For more information please contact Raven Stanley at

Patty Grant- Transcending Trauma; Tuesday, November 15th at 7 pm in EUC Auditorium

Transcending Trauma: If I fall who will catch me?
Forgiving others is not easy. Forgiving ourselves is equally hard. Patty Grant’s youth was characterized by emotional, physical and mental abuse. She barely finished high school because of constant bullying and threats to her life. Patty’s journey to forgiveness has taken her from personal trauma to recovery. Along the way she envisioned a way to help others heal and begin their own journey toward reconciliation. Patty weaves a story that moves the audience through Indian boarding schools, survival, abuse, and addiction. In dealing with historical grief and trauma, Patty found a way forward and has been teaching this concept to others ever since. Patty is a behavioral health consultant for the Cherokee. For more information, contact Gus Peña at

NC American Indian Heritage Month Celebration, Saturday, November 19th at 10am-4pm at NC Museum of History (Raleigh, NC)

For more information, please go to

American Indian Cultural Fair and Dance Exhibition (2014)

Thursday, November 20, 2014
EUC Cone Ballroom

American Indian Artist Demonstration
5pm to 8pm

Pow Wow Dancing
7pm to 9pm

Co-sponsored by the Native American Student Association and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Call 336-334-5090 or search for “UNCG Multicultural Affairs” on Facebook for more information.



















Pow Wow Origins

There are several different stories of how the Pow Wow was started. Some believe that the war dance societies of the Ponca and other Southern Plains tribes were the origin of the Pow Wow. Another belief is that when the Native Americans were forced onto reservations the government also forced them to have dances for the public to come and see.


Pow Wow singers are very important figures in the Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing. The songs are of many varieties, from spiritual to war to social. As various tribes gathered together, they would share their songs, often changing the songs so singers of different tribes could join. With these changes came the use of “vocables” to replace the words of the old songs. Thus, some songs today are sung in vocables with no words. Many songs are still sung in native tongue either newly composed or revivals of old songs. These songs are reminders to the Indian people of their old ways and rich heritage.


Dancers have always been a very important part of the life of the American Indian. Most dances seen at Pow Wows today are social dances which might have had different meanings in earlier days. Although dance styles and content have changed, their meaning and importance has not. The outfits worn by the dancers, like the styles of clothing today evolve over time, it is not a stagnant culture, but a vibrant and changing way of life. The different styles of dance are recognized by the style of clothing worn by the dancer.

  • Ladies Fancy Shawl is the newest form of women dance and is quite athletic! Fancy Shawl is often called Northern Shawl, as it does come form the Northern tribes along the US-Canadian border.
  • The oldest form of women’s dance is Buckskin. This is a dance of elegance and grace. The movement is smooth and flowing.
  • Ladies Cloth is a Southern Traditional form of women’s dress. This style was traditionally danced by the Kiowas, Osage, Ponca, and others.
  • Jingle dress is also called a prayer dress. There are differences in the origins of the dress among the tribes. The dress was seen in a dream, as an object to bring healing to afflicted people. It comes from the Northern tribe Ojibewea, or Chippewa, along the Canadian border.
  • The Straight Dance from Oklahoma is a formal, tailored, prestigious form of Southern dance clothes. The overall effect is of reassuring solidity, with everything closely matched and coordinated. It looks as if it is planned all at one time. The art of “straight dancing” is in the little, sometimes unnoticed things, both in the movement and the outfit. Smoothness, precision with the song, knowledge of dance etiquette, and a powerful sense of pride mark the outstanding straight dancer.
  • Grass Dancers—Originally done as a warrior society dance, it has evolved over the years. It has further evolved into a highly-competitive form of Northern dancing. Some believe that Grass Dancing came from young boys tying grass on their outfits. Before a dance could be held on the prairie the grass had to be stomped down. This is where many of the movements are believed to com e from. Afterwards the dancers would tie the grass to their outfit. Many believe that the Omaha tribe originated the dance in their warrior societies.
  • A popular Northern style of dress and dance—the traditional style—has evolved from the well known “old time Sioux” style of the early reservation period through the 1940’s. Although a clear distinction exists, one can see an obvious connection to the old-time Sioux Outfit, with the dancer drawing from this earlier style various elements which he either adheres to or uses as a basis for his own interpretation. Therefore this form of dancing that has evolved over the years is the oldest form of Native American dancing. The dancer is also said to be re-enacting the movement of a warrior searching for the enemy.
  • The Oklahoma Feather Dancer or “fancy dancer” is one of the most popular styles of dance and outfit seen at modern Pow Wows. The fancy dance outfit, as such, has no single tribal identity. The “Fancy Dance” originated as Fancy War Dance by the Hethuska society in Oklahoma. The dance style is of two types: a basic simple step while dancing around the drum and a “contest” step with fast and intricate footwork combined with a spinning up and down movement of the body.