Nebraska

Turtle Island Storyteller Wynema Morris

The Origins of the Powwow

Wynema Morris

My name is Wynema Morris. My Omaha name is Mi’houx’fahn. I want to talk about the very little known fact, it seems, about the origins of what we call the powwow. The Omaha people have a tradition. We have been dancing for at least two hundred and one years, if not longer. Oral tradition and oral history has us dancing for almost forever. But since we have to date things like this we dated them from an entry by Lewis and Clark when they had come up the Missouri River and they wanted to see the Omahas. When they went to our village up by Homer, Nebraska, they found that we were not home. They made an entry that we were probably off on the summer hunt, which is probably exactly correct Nevertheless, in order to date the powwow we use that entry from 1804, and so when Lewis and Clark, we had their commemorative celebration or their commemoration last year at two hundred years, or their bicentennial.