103 years of tradition

Meskwaki Powwow under way in Tama County

A variety of dances are performed each day of the powwow at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., including the Meskwaki Dance, followed by the Friendship Dance (pictured).

TAMA — Food, music, traditional dances, and lots of handmade jewelry and clothing items abounded.

The 103rd Annual Meskwaki Powwow drew hundreds of attendees on Friday, during day two of the four-day long celebration, held at the Powwow Grounds, located four miles west of Tama.

The powwow, which first began as a religious celebration, has evolved into a time to socialize, honor friendship and introduce non-Meskwaki natives to the culture.

“I live in Arizona, and I’ve been coming to this off and on for the last 12 years,” said Tina Yazzie, one of the vendors. “I’m a Navajo, and I like seeing other tribes and their powwows.”

A wide array of edibles were available, including Indian Tacos, Indian Burgers and fry bread cooked over a campfire, plus carnival favorites such as corn dogs, nachos, pork sandwiches, sno cones, burgers, and more.

Blankets, pottery, dreamcatchers and turquoise jewelry were some of the main items available for purchase.

But the part of the festivities that draw spectators far and wide, are the ceremonial dances, held at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day of the powwow.

Performers wear full-dress regalia, many outfits having been passed down for several generations.

The Meskwaki Dance is the first one performed, followed by the Friendship Dance, a universal dance among tribal nations, as a way to welcome visitors. During this dance, attendees were asked to join the dancers in the circle, and dance alongside them.

“This is the first time I’ve been to the powwow in a while, and I came with my family,” said Marilyn Slack of Des Moines. “It’s really wonderful. I like seeing the dances.”

Other dances performed during the two daily shows include: the harvest or bean, swan, buffalo head, pipe, war, Shawnee, rabbit and victory or soldier dances.

A free Fun Walk/Run will be held today, with sign-up starting at 9 a.m., and again on Sunday, August 13, with sign-up starting at 8:30 a.m.

General admissions is $7 for adults, $5 for children, and 5 and under get in free of charge.

The Powwow will be streamed live today, viewable on the Powwow website. To learn more, visit meskwakipowwow.com or call 641-484-4678.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com