Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Red Paint Powwow, Part 4: The Grand Entry

Red Paint Powwow, Silver City, New Mexico

The Red Paint Powwow is an annual event in Silver City, New Mexico, hosted by the Chiricahua Apache. I attended the powwow on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

The Grand Entry is the most exhilarating event at a powwow, yes? All of the colors, the dance, the sounds, the sheer volume of the sensory feast make it so.

With a front-row seat, I had almost too good a view, as I found that my camera couldn't capture the entire person before me - his face and his regalia and his footwork. This turned out to be a benefit, actually, because in having to choose between a performer's face/regalia and his footwork, I often chose the footwork, something that might otherwise have been overlooked due to the competing beauty of the attire.

The Grand Entry video requires a bit of a time investment, so I'll highlight some points along the way.

First, notice that the audience stands during the Grand Entry.

At 1:18: Note that the Color Guard is among the first entrants. First flag? The American flag. Honored members of the Grand Entry? Veterans. Publicly-displayed respect for veterans seems to be a prominent feature in New Mexican communities with a large Indian population.

At 1:46: See the POW-MIA flag? I was startled at first, but then not, to learn that because Indians were prisoners of war at various times and places in the U.S., the significance of the POW-MIA flag goes beyond what most Americans think of when we see this flag. (I wonder if there are Americans of Japanese descent who feel the same.)

At 2:14: The White Eagle Gourd Dance Society members.

At 2:22: The "Chinese Hopi" and Miss Mescalero Apache.  

At 5:39: Appears a woman whose attire is dazzling in the color and intricacy of its beadwork and her footwork - it is such a cliche, but true: Her dance steps are so light, they are like that of a beautiful deer. What she makes appear so effortless in the airiness of her steps must be very tiring.

As  you might expect, the performers fall along a continuum between full body-mind focus into their dance on one end and bored, going (barely) through the motions on the other.

Red Paint Powwow, Silver City, New Mexico

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