The powwow head staff includes the Host Drums, Head Veteran Dancer, Head Man Dancer, Head Woman Dancer, Emcee, Arena Director, and Head Cook. These individuals have the responsibility of being exemplary role models with outstanding traditional qualities. They must be present throughout the whole powwow.
The Host Drum is the lead drum for the powwow. This drum is used for the Grand Entry, Flag Song, and Veterans Song that open the powwow and the Flag Song and Retreat Song that close the powwow. The Host Drum leads off the rotation for intertribal dances and may be called upon for specials sponsored by the powwow. This is a very important position as the drum is responsible for keeping the traditions of our cultures alive.
In the Grand Entry, the Head Veteran Dancer, Head Man Dancer, and Head Woman Dancer follow the flags and lead the dancers into the arena. Throughout the powwow the Head Dancers are the first to begin each dance. They also assist with specials and honoring’s and lead the honor dances. They serve as role models and must be very knowledgeable about the traditional songs, dances, honoring’s, and other powwow events. The Head Veteran Dancer must be a veteran with U.S. Military Service.
The Emcee is the voice of the powwow and keeps the activities of the powwow arena running smoothly. Working with the Arena Director, the Emcee sets the schedule of events, maintains the drum rotation, calls the specific dances and other events within the arena, and keeps the singers, dancers, and general public informed as to what is happening in the arena. The Emcee provides a wealth of information to those in attendance and is responsible to the elders for ensuring that the powwow keeps going in a traditional way.
The Arena Director keeps the powwow running in an orderly fashion, keeping track of the dancers, singers, and special events, lining up the dancers for Grand Entry, and providing procedural direction in all aspects of the arena. The Arena Director must be especially knowledgeable about powwow protocol and etiquette and have vast knowledge of the traditions of the people, the way things have been practiced at powwow both on and off the reservation, and the way our people are traditionally dressed despite the number of American Indian tribes that are represented at powwow. This is a huge responsibility as our elders practice our ways and the children learn the old ways for the future.
The Head Cook is responsible for preparation of the menu of Native foods served at the powwow. The Head Cook must be knowledgeable about traditional foods and about serving a crowd through the powwow kitchen. The Head Cook works with powwow staff and volunteers to make sure that everyone who visits the kitchen has an authentic taste of Indian Country.