Music and dance aren’t the only activities that light up children’s faces at pow wows. What about traditional and interactive games? Carnival rides? Parades? Or even a junior Olympics?
ICTMN searched for kid-friendly gatherings, and found 10 pow wows that just might pass the choosiest kids inspection. With summer approaching, here’s a list of some of the best pow wows for kids.
Mvskoke Nation Festival
Claude Cox Omniplex, Okmulgee, OK
“So many of our events touch upon kids,” said Ryan Logan, a manager at the Mvskoke Nation Festival’s tourism and recreation office. At the Children’s Fun Fair (Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.), kids can choose from a variety of activities, including inflatables, carnival and pony rides.
The main attractions are the 70-foot Ferris wheel and the heart-pounding roller coaster. The parade in Downtown Okmulgee also draws the young crowd, with the procession of floats and marching bands. If they’re lucky, kids can catch the candies thrown their way. For children who want more action, a Junior Olympics is set up for ages six to 15, and a basketball tournament is open to kids age 10 and above.
North American Indian Days
Blackfeet Reservation, Browning, Montana
Algin Scabbyrobe, of the Black Lodge Singers, the multi-awarded northern style drum group, told ICTMN that his family has performed at this pow wow in the past. “There are different families having specials, or sponsoring the kids or children categories as a special; and our kids’ songs are always a hit there,” he said. Other young crowd favorites, according to the Blackfeet tribe, are the parade, fun run, and rodeo.
Courtesy Mvskoke Nation Festival Tourism & Recreation
Children enjoy a carnival ride at the Children’s Fun Fair, Mvskoke Nation Festival.
Thunderbird Grand Mid-Summer Pow Wow
Queens County Farm Museum, Floral Park, N.Y.
While this pow wow does not have activities specifically set up for children, the farm venue makes up for an exciting weekend. “Since the farm museum is actually a farm, there are many things children can do,” said Louis Mofsie, MC. “I think a combined visit to the museum, and to the pow wow is a great experience for kids where they can learn something about the original people of this country, and also see how things used to be.”
Attean Family Pow Wow
Maine Wildlife Park, Gray, Maine
Renowned flutist Joseph Firecrow said this summer event, held at the Maine Wildlife Park, is a fun pow wow for kids. “This pow wow is held at an animal refuge and they have walking paths, a birds of prey house, as well as the pow wow,” he said. “It accentuates the fact that we are the caretakers of the animals and the land.”
Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival & Powwow
Choctaw Nation Capitol Grounds, Tuskahoma, OK
Here’s the deal: the carnival rides at this pow wow are free, but there are other activities for kids to help them learn something new. “There are cultural classes in the village on pottery, flint knapping, beading, storytelling, and an annual bow shoot for all ages,” said Lisa Reed, executive director, public relations of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Reed said there’s a supervised playground with arts and crafts, turtle races and puppet shows. There is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the youth; stickball games on the capitol lawn, and dancing, dance classes, and the pow wow contests are open to youth.
Courtesy of Moundville Native American Festival
A young child tries on an eagle mask at the Moundville Native American Festival.
Cherokee National Holiday
Cherokee Cultural Grounds, Tahlequa, OK
LeeAnn Dreadfulwater, from the Cherokee Nation’s communications office told ICTMN that at this year’s pow wow, there will be plenty of games for kids. She said, “We’ll have a children’s games area at One Fire Field featuring inflatables and cultural make-and-take activities.”
Dreadfulwater also said kids always enjoy the downtown parade at Tahlequah, as well as Jason Christie’s Children’s Fishing Derby on Saturday morning. And traditional games, like stickball and cornstalk shoot are popular events. “The pow wow itself is not a children’s event, although kids are welcome to come and dance in the grand entry or enter age-appropriate dance contests,” she said.
Mahkato Annual Traditional Wacipi
Land of Memories Park, Mankato, MN
Aside from camping at the Land of Memories Park (it is free, by the way), this pow wow devotes the first day of the event to learning activities.
The pow wow’s “learning stations” are located in seven camps on the perimeter of a large circle. At the stations, some of the activities for kids include, storytelling, wild rice gathering, head roach, jewelry and buffalo box making, pottery and drumming. Children are also taught how to grow and use corn, they can explore what tipi living is like, and can learn how to make a dream catchers.
Moundville Native American Festival
Moundville Archaeological Park, Moundville, AL
The Moundville Native American Festival, one of Alabama’s Top Tourism Events, should not disappoint the kids.
“Our children's area features make-and-take activities, and games with simple themes,” said Betsy Irwin, the festival director.
Among the activities are: Shell Bead Necklace, where kids take a shell and grind one end of it to make a bead on a grinding stone the way prehistoric people would have made them; tribal Twister, with a large map of North America, which shows where different tribal groups lived; and children’s stickball, where kids try out a version of Stickball with lacrosse sticks. Irvin said the pow wow also has a storytelling arbor for kids to sit and listen to traditional stories from several different southeastern groups, and a central performance stage for dancing, storytelling, and musical performances.
Indian Festival & Pow-Wow
Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, GA
Oct. 29-Nov. 1
“We always strive to create a kid and family-friendly experience,” said Christine Clement, the public relations coordinator at the Stone Mountain Park. “Parents and kids can participate in interactive experiences such as bowl-making, hide tanning, flint knapping, basket weaving, weaponry making and open-fire cooking.”
She said the most popular event is the dance competition, where children learn about the central role of dance in Native cultures and compete in intertribal dance and drum competitions.
Courtesy of Indian Festival & Pow Wow
A young child dressed in regalia takes part in the Indian Festival & Pow-Wow
Thunderbird Intertribal Powwow
Mullet Festival Ground, Niceville, FL
Children are the first ones to enter the gates of this pow wow. “There’s a children’s day program Friday morning,” said Glenn Farmer, chairman of the Thunderbird Intertribal Powwow. Last year, Farmer said at least 1,500 kids, from childcare, to junior high came to the educational part of the pow wow.