On Saturday Stephen and I attended and photographed Choctaw's 7th annual Powwow. First let me say that in my rush to find any clothing that would fit over my turkey bloated belly I grabbed one of Stephen's t-shirts and headed off to do some photography. Once we arrived and found our selves a place to dump our bags and jackets I suddenly found myself feeling extremely self conscious. What a complete moron I was to have grabbed one of Stephen's t-shirts with a huge British flag across the chest. I mean really who goes to an Indian event and advertises that the British are here!!!! I quickly grabbed $20 bucks from the ATM and purchased a really cute brown and pink Powwow t-shirt. Not that I am ashamed to have married a Brit. I for one love the fact that Stephen is British and most days I cope with his British ways fairly well (lol) but I am not completely blind to the fact that the Indians lost a lot due to the British. I did feel that flaunting a British flag at an Indian Powwow was a bit disrespectful and not at all my intention. Once I had corrected my error I found myself in complete awe of the events taking place around me.
Partly I was feeling guilty about the fact that our children where missing out on such an amazing event, partly I was thinking that there was no way Ayden would stay in a stroller for 15 hours with this much excitement all around him and partly I was excited about the potential photographs. I found myself, several times, staring in awe of the dances taking place before me, so captivated that I had to remind myself to take the photos.
I am embarrassed to admit that I graduated high school with a class that was at least half Indians, I have family that are Indian, but I have little understanding of the traditional Powwow and what a lot of the stuff means. For instance each person had various stripes and designs painted on their faces and I have no idea what those symbols represent. As well each group of competitors had different wardrobes to wear and I don't know what each of them represent. As well there was an instance when one Indian's bustle (I only know it is a bustle because the MC said so) came unattached from his clothing and fell to the floor. I had no idea that there was a specific way that the bustle must be retrieved. In another instance a section of feathers fell onto the floor and another, but different, ritual was done to retrieve the feathers. I had no idea and found the entire thing fascinating.
I noticed that through out the dances, quite often the dancers would have their heads down, almost as if in prayer. It had the feel of a religious reverence and in many ways could be very humbling.
This is my favorite image of the head lowering portion of the dances. This particular man seemed to be so completely consumed by his dance and the meaning of it that he never even recognized my lens pointing at him. I love those shots where the subject is so focused and so unconscious of the world around them.
It was a long day but I honestly loved it, I could do this type of photography every day!