Why do Danes practice powwow dancing and singing?

Many of the photos that you see on this website are from powwows held in Denmark and hosted by Danes. Many Native Americans wonder, why Europeans dress up and sing and dance like Native Americans. This is a relevant question that we will try to answer the best we can.

Different reactions
We understand why some people find it odd to see Europeans dance in Native American powwow outfits. Many Native Americans are often surprised in the beginning, but when they realize that we take it very seriously and are very respectful about what we do, they usually accept us and consider it a tribute to their heritage that people from other countries celebrate their traditions in this way. A few Native Americans take offense, and that is understandable. But all the Native Americans that we have met are pleased when they see our contemporary outfits and Native Americans from all tribes visit these European powwows and many bring their outfits and enjoy the dancing at these gatherings - and these are well-respected and knowledgeable elders, singers and dancers from the US and Canada.

Do we have the right?
By what right do we practice Native American culture? We often ask ourselves that question and there is no easy answer. Maybe the Native American culture offers some of the values that we have lost or forgotten? We are not trying to become Native Americans, but we all share a deep admiration, sympathy and respect for the Native American culture - past and present. We are not trying to preserve Native American culture either... it's very much alive and well! You can say that we are borrowing the culture of the Native Americans and strive to represent Native American culture as it can be witnessed today in the USA and Canada.

For some people it is a hobby and for others it has become more of a life-style. Common to us all is a life-long interest in Native American history and culture and we feel a strong connection with the Native Americans which expresses itself in many ways. We know that powwows do not include all aspects of Native American culture, but a powwow is one way for us to get together and share our admiration, knowledge and respect. We gather to celebrate the contemporary Native American culture expressed through powwows, and we gather to socialize and have fun, enjoy the singing and dancing, show our latest craftwork and outfits, and educate people.

Powwows all over the world
Most Europeans that dance and sing the modern powwow style have traveled to powwows in the US and Canada and made friends with Native Americans from all tribes. People enjoy the powwow singing and dancing so much that non-Indian people all over the world dance and sing and host local powwows; in Scandinavia, England, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Eastern Europe and even in Japan! Not to mention non-Indian activities in the US and Canada.

A culture that constantly changes and evolves
We agree that it is odd that Europeans dress up in Native American outfits, but we do not mean to be disrespectful. Many of us have traveled to powwows in the USA and Canada and have learned from our friends over there. Others are just beginning to learn how to make an outfit and how to dance. Some may not have great outfits but most of us are very conscious about making our dance outfits contemporary so that we can show to people that the Native American culture is alive, that it is not static but constantly changes and evolves. Many European people, and not just the children, believe that Native Americans still live in teepees and dress the way they did a hundred years ago. When they see our dance outfits made of modern materials they realize that it is not so anymore.

Powwow traditions of the Northern Plains
On the photos you will notice a strong presence of outfits and traditions representing the Northern Plains tribes, especially the Lakota Nations of South Dakota. We are aware that many other tribes with different regalia, dance styles and traditions exist, and we do not mean to discriminate. The simple reason why we mainly follow the traditions of the Lakota Nations is that most of our Native American friends are from the Oglala and Sicangu Lakota Nations and they have taught us about the singing and dancing. They are our friends and teachers and therefore we follow their ways. We know that this is not the only Native American way, but this is the way we have been taught.