Cultural Traditions


The modern powwow is a combination of a variety of dance styles and traditions based on a long history.  Native American dance traditions and religious practices were often banned by the United States Government during the second half of the 19th century, when cultural events had to go “underground.” The dances and ceremonies were either held in secret locations, or were masked as other activities.

After the government lifted its ban in 1933, dance, once again, took an active public place in American Indian life. Returning World War II Indian veterans were honored at “Homecoming Dances.” During this time, American Indian society also rebuilt important social ties and customs such as honoring elders, and naming and adoption ceremonies. Powwows gained further prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, when many tribes began to sponsor intertribal gatherings for fun and dancing. Over the last thirty years, powwows have moved from the reservations to large convention centers, casinos and gyms in cities all around the country.

Contemporary powwows are inter-tribal celebrations, social gatherings and friendly dance competitions that are open to men, women, and even small children. Common powwow dance categories include:

  • Women’s Fancy Shawl       
  • Women’s Jingle Dress
  • Women’s Northern Traditional
  • Women’s Southern Traditional
  • Men’s Fancy Dance
  • Men’s Northern Traditional
  • Men’s Southern Straight
  • Men’s Grass Dance
  • Men’s Chicken Dance
  • Gourd Dance

While the Coushatta people are traditionally known as Stomp Dancers, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana also hosts an annual inter-tribal powwow in Kinder, LA.  The 18th annual Coushatta powwow was held August 2-3, 2013.  For more information, please visit

Joey Poncho