By Don Lowe • Photos by Anna McKibben
The Quapaw Powwow continues to be a phenomenal four-day, festival-style extravaganza, focused on remembering and reflecting a strong, storied history worth celebrating year after year, decade after decade, century after century.
In a few weeks – July 4-7, to be exact – the 147th annual edition of this sensational showcase event is set to take place once again, featuring a wide-ranging display of ceremonial dances sure to provide a great deal of entertainment.
All of the performances are considered to be of similar significance, and Quapaw Powwow Chairman Mike Shawnee explains, “All of the styles of dances are equally important because each individual style adds to the whole powwow.
“The bright colors and beautiful designs of the outfits are eye catching and usually are indicative of that person’s tribal affiliation.”
While the dancers dazzle the throng of onlookers, Shawnee says there’s opportunity for anyone watching to participate. “We welcome the crowd of spectators and invite them to dance during specific times.
“We host one contest for men and one for women from the crowd who are dressed in their regular daily attire. We want non-native Americans to come out and dance for a chance to walk away with $100 cash, winner-take-all from both categories. It’s a way to get our crowd to participate, have some fun and give them extra cash to spend.”
Although all of these presentations are likely to captivate everyone, Shawnee notes there are some that might be more appealing than others. “Many people enjoy the men’s fancy dance. It is a very athletic, fast-paced style that originated here in Oklahoma.
“The men wear two large bustles, made of feathers, on their backs. There are two eagle feathers adorning their heads. They rock back and forth, in beat with a drum.
“If a contestant oversteps and does not stop (dancing) when the songs stop, they are to practice good sportsmanship and disqualify themselves during a contest. Also, if any part of their regalia falls off and drops to the ground during their contest, they should automatically disqualify themselves.
“The same rules hold true for all men’s and women’s dance contest categories. Although women don’t wear as many feathers, they still need to ensure everything is secured appropriately.”
In addition to the men’s fancy dance, Shawnee says, “The women’s buckskin is a very graceful dance that requires the dancer to be well hydrated and in shape, as the dress alone is quite heavy since it is made from several elk or deer hides and adorned with thousands of seed beads.”
This Quapaw powwow is so special because “it’s one of the oldest annual dances in the USA.
“Our tribe has always had a reputation for our hospitality. We enjoy this type of homecoming, and Quapaw people know our celebration revolves around the Fourth of July.”
Shawnee has reason for a great deal of personal pride in being part of the tradition. “My family has always participated in this celebration, as has my wife’s. I’m proud to see our people continue to celebrate who we are as a sovereign native nation and to continue to celebrate our rich traditions.
“We welcome all races and religions to join us for a free, fun-filled, wholesome weekend. Come on out each evening around 7 pm and enjoy our songs, dances, food vendors, and arts and crafts.”
Emcee: Mike Burgess, Comanche
Head Singer: Gene Sovo, Comanche
Head Man Dancer: Cheyenne Pocowatchit, Comanche
Head Lady Dancer: Candice Byrd, Quapaw/Osage/Cherokee
Stomp Dance Coordinator: Joel Barnes, Shawnee
Host Northern Drum: Red Scouts
Co-Arena Director: Dennis LittleAxe, Absentee Shawnee
Co-Arena Director: PJ Attocknie, Peoria
Quapaw Men’s Straight Dance Contest (Ages 18+)
Quapaw Women’s Dress Contest (Ages 18+)
Quapaw Young Men’s Straight Dance Contest (Ages 0-17)
Quapaw Young Women’s Contest (Ages 0-17)
All Quapaw Tribal Family Specials
Gourd Dancing, Contests:
Men, Teens & Juniors/Fancy, Traditional, Straight, Grass
Women, Teens & Juniors/Cloth, Buckskin, Jingle, Fancy
Men’s & Women’s Golden Ages (60+)/Combined Categories
Adult & Golden Age:
1st – $1,000, 2nd – $800, 3rd – $600, 4th – $400
Teens (Ages 13-17):
1st – $500, 2nd – $400, 3rd – $300
Juniors (Ages 7-12):
1st – $400, 2nd – $300, 3rd – $200
NOTE: Must be in two grand entries.
All categories must have a minimum of three people,
or they will be combined.
Mike Shawnee, Powwow Chairman – 918.724.6403
Anna McKibben, Vendor Contact – 918.542.1853
Quapaw Nation – 5681 South 630 Road, Quapaw, OK
Mike Shawnee, Powwow chairman, plans the powwow, along with his committee, which includes his wife, Melany, his sister-in-law, Anna McKibben, Liz Scott, Emma McKibben (Mike’s & Melany’s niece), Stacia Forbis, Jeff Sanders, Lori Shafer, Wyatt Chuckluck and Sydney Gabbard.
Mike selects a head staff of individuals who lead the songs and dances.
We honor our past and present veterans who are warriors, deserving recognition for their service to our tribe and to our country.
Mike also works closely with Donna Mercer, who is the tribal administrator of the Quapaw Nation.
Mike listens to suggestions and tries to implement ideas based on the amount of coverage through volunteers.