Monday, April 21, 2008

Pow Wows are Fun, and a lot of Hard Work!.

For my new friend, The Localmalcontent!

To the tribe, the Pow Wow is the biggest event of the year. Everyone will make some effort to attend although,normally the men and the younger folk are the most likely to travel. This is a chance to visit family and most likely is where a young person will meet their spouse. Each year a different village will play host as the tribe gathers for a time of fun, competition, food, and visiting.

In the Ye'kwana culture each visitor is received by the entire village. As the canoe loads arrive at the port, a call will go forth so that everyone in the host village will line up to receive the new arrivals with a hand shake of greeting.

The host villagers will take responsibility for carrying all the luggage of the visitors to their place of stay, which is what these two guys in the picture below are doing. If you arrive at a village and no one shows up to help with your luggage, you should probably continue on your way and not stop at that village!

It is a lot of work to host the tribe for a pow wow in the jungle, no hotels, no stores, no restaurants. All the food and housing must be provided by the host village and it takes months to prepare and lay aside all that is needed. Extra housing must be built as well. As the following picture reveals, it gets tight!

The most common aspect of the gathering among the Ye'kwana is the competition. Soccer has become the way of promoting your village athletic prowess. Soccer was easily adopted by most South American tribes since their ancestors all took part in ball games such as the Aztec, Mayan and Incas played. Each village also sends a "queen" to represent the tribe. Some wear traditional clothing and others prefer western wear. The choice is up to the village. The Queen below happens to be Pastor Victor's daughter.

Recently, volleyball has also been added to the tournament which allows even the girls to participate. These teams are coached and practiced for months in advance. Sometimes they are even housed separately and fed apart, so as to totally concentrate on being prepared to win.

In the evenings, the tribe will gather after the evening meal and play traditional games.

Everyone is included, even the children. ( You can see my WHITE face below my daughter who has perched for a better view.)

Aside from the soccer and volleyball, there are also competitions in foot races, canoing, archery and target shooting with blow guns!

The girls spend a lot of time in painting each other up and wearing their beads to show their beauty and wealth. Above, Jewel gets help from a friend, below, the finished product. Leg paint is also important as it is viewed as a way to ward off the snakes!

The main event of every powwow is the food! In a culture where so much time and effort goes into gardening and hunting, food is always appreciated. Can you imagine the work that goes into preparing meals for 2000 people , 3 times a day!

Cooking over fire.

Just the amount of water that has to be carried up from the river for each meals is amazing!

No one is exempt. Even Yekwanaman and Jungle Mom pitch in with the food preparation.

Different families take turn providing refreshments for all the athletes.

Jewel is serving brownies!

Music is important and their are many traditional 'dances' and marches. Some are merely forms of greeting other villages as shown here.

Each village will bring their own drums and bamboo horns. Our river is named "Bamboo River" and our village, "ChajuraƱa" translates as "Bambooville" as we have the BEST bamboo horns!!!
Oh Yeah!!! It's important!!!

It is important that one understands the culture and realizes that all indian traditions are not necessarily pagan or evil. Often times, the outsider will not understand this and condemn something that is only cultural. To the outsider, may of our traditions seem just as strange!
When an activity is truly pagan or satanic, the believing Christian indian will know to abstain from the activity. The indian believer is indwelled by the same Holy Spirit as any other Christian. We have seen this over and over. They will come to the understanding of right and wrong in regards to their faith and practice. This will then be a proof of their salvation as it is worked out in their lives that all may see the difference. The proof is in their practical christian living. ( Have you ever wondered what the indian believer would think about Easter eggs, and christmas trees, or placing flowers on graves? Not to mention Halloween!) Judge not lest ye be judged.

The church in our village always took the opportunity to preach and share the gospel with the other villages at the yearly pow wows.


The Localmalcontent said...

What joy, what fun, what fellowship.

That IS what any PowWow is all about- the fellowship, the meeting and welcoming new faces, eating, showing off a little too.

Your first three sentences could describe our Pow Wows; anybodys.

The Pow wow must be a early type of revival, because I've never been to one, or heard of one where The Father wasn't worshipped openly, where His presence wasn't already acknowledged.

Thank You Rita, for this post; I know all those red faces now.
Any person who tries to tell me that some 'native' ways are antique, doesn't know what they speak.

Hooray for you. Hooray for your mission.

Pat said...

A great mission field!!

What a fun time for the locals to get together!!

Love the painted legs!!

And Jayde had the best seat in the house!!

Harry said...

It does look like fun. It also looks like an interesting mix of new and old as cultures mix.

The Merry Widow said...

People just need to get together and have fun!


The Frank Family said...

This looks awesome Jungle Mom!!! What a special celebration.

Dawn said...

You will absolutely never run out of great post topics, will you??

WomanHonorThyself said...

come make one in NYC girl!.hehe

Starla said...

It looks like a lot of fun.

American said...

Thanks for sharing and the cultural learning. Sure looks like a big event, lots of effort and fun. Great Post!

Pam said...

Honey, sign me up to paint every inch of my white legs if ever I visit! I mean, goodness, we must ward off the snakes!

I loved the photos, so colorful. I never knew that Chajurana meant "Bambooville"! Neat!

Sarah Joy said...

Wow. I worked in the kitchen at college, and I know how much work it is to serve food to a thousand people with a fully functioning, well stocked kitchen complete with walk in freezer. That is just amazing. What a wonderful experience.

Shortstuff said...

hey! you can read my latest post if you want to see why I missed a bunch of your posts. I tried to scan through all of them. I'm suddenly very busy.

Liz said...

This is something I never knew about. Being Venezuelan but living in the capital, I surely don't have any clue about our indigenous communities.

Jane said...

This was such a wonderful post (and the previous one too!). What a HUGE event this is and I am blown away by the preparation it involves.
I can't WAIT to read your are writing one aren't you?
BTW, the purchase of your brother in law's home in Cabudare is almost complete....we are VERY excited.

Paul said...

Nice post. Enjoyed it. Other posts, too.

So I tell ya what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna put your blog on my blogroll. And I'll pray at, for you and your mission.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. How'd you find it?

The Hermit said...

Does nobody get drunk? Seems like at a big event like that people would get drunk and there would be big fights.

Brenda said...

That looks like a lot of fun! I appreciate your attitude towards the whole thing. We have to go where the people are to reach them with the gospel. I could tell some stories of my own. . . :)

berty said...

A wonderful bit of culture and history you've captured here. I loved it!

Jungle Mom said...

Usually the athletes are not allowed to drink while competing. After all is done, different villages will have different rules about drinking. The indians have to make a 'home brew' from casava which takes a lot of work and a lot of drinking to get drunk on. But, yes, many men will get drunk and then there will be fights. Then the chief comes in, hits them over the head with a stick!
They have separate drinki8ng parties for different occasions. Many are prone to alcoholism but, thankfully, it is not easy for them to get alcohol!

Bar Kochba said...

This is fascinating. I am so interested in the culture of these tribes. Thank you for sharing.

Ellen said...

How interesting! We're looking forward to seeing part of your family on Thursday. We wish that you could come with them. BTW: Do Clint and Jewel have any food allergies???

groovyoldlady said...

Gee, I wish we had Pow-Wows here!

The Hermit said...

Jungle Mom, then the indians aren't much different from Marines. When we had big athletic contests, beer and barbecue usually lead to fights and then the shore patrol would hit people over the head with sticks. So I guess people have a lot in common that way. Or men do, anyhow. :-)