Powwow Etiquette

Webinar on Powwow Protocols and Etiquette

In preparation for the All-Nations Powwow at U of T Mississauga, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives hosted a webinar on Powwow Protocols and Etiquette with 2023 All-Nations Powwow Head Dancer, Deanne Hupfield. Watch the recording to learn about Powwows, what traditional protocols are, and how we can all enjoy Powwows in a good way.


Important Cultural Knowledge 

  • The correct term for a Powwow dancer’s clothing is “regalia.” Please do not refer to regalia as costumes. Costumes are for dressing up to pretend to be something you are not. 
  • Do not touch dancers’ regalia (clothing), Powwow drums, and Eagle Feathers, as they are sacred items.  
  • Indigenous people earn their Eagle Feathers through ceremony in recognition of the work that they do to support their communities. It is a symbol of high regard. 
  • The Head Dancer’s role is to lead, welcome, and support other dancers. 


How to Participate Respectfully at a Powwow 

  • Wait for the Master of Ceremonies' instructions before taking pictures or videos during the live event. Some parts of the event are sacred and prohibit any photography or videography. 
  • Before taking photos of Powwow dancers, ask for their permission. 
  • Parental permission is required before taking photos of minors. 

  • You may share photos of the event on social media, but it is inappropriate to sell photos of participants or the event for profit. 
  • You may applaud during the Powwow. Listen for the Master of Ceremonies’ guidance. 
  • There is no dress code for guests, but modest clothing is appreciated. 
  • Be present and enjoy the event. 


Dancing at a Powwow 

  • Guests are welcome to dance during the Intertribal Dances (view the Powwow schedule). 
  • The Master of Ceremonies will announce when everyone, including non-Indigenous guests, may join the dancing (learn basic Powwow steps)
  • It is OK to make up your own Powwow steps while dancing. 
  • The dance area may have many people. Please be mindful to avoid bumping into fellow dancers.  
  • There will be breaks between dances. 


If you have questions about Powwow etiquette and protocols, email indigenous.utm@utoronto.ca

Deanne Hupfield
Deanne Hupfield