To one of the older websites
Looking for information about native American gathering circle meaning?
Because you are in another country (Canada) I am not sure if you understood our reason for Paw-Paus and or why we changed the name?
POWWOW or PAW-PAUS
What is an American native Paw paus?
We have been to powwows in and around your country so explaining a powwow is not necessary?
A Paw Paus is what my people have called our gatherings for at least as far back as any of my teachers could recall their ancestors teach about and I am now 72 years young, or old depending who you are asking?
So as you can see a very long time, the word goes something like this.
Soon after first contact some of our invaders stumbled on one of our past gatherings and enjoyed what they were seeing.
Sachem speaks Powwow or Paw – paus
As far as what is this gathering
I can and will only talk about this very spiritual event from what I have been taught from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s and allowed to talk about!
Fall (south) is the time of year for meetings to get ready to head in to the middle of the land gathering food and supplies and make ready to last out the colder weather that is coming, at the end of this time (fall) there would be a gathering of the people and prayers, dancing and drum for the Creators protection while on our journeys or a mini gathering. The New England people did not carry homes around the land instead they would build homes (round and long houses) in each of the seasons, places they stayed in for that season. In the winter time (west) the people split up into family groups (clans and headed west) because of the food shortages at this winter time. In this winter it would be a time of hardship keeping warm and finding food and firewood so at the end of this winter these clans would hold a gathering to share food, clothing, wood and storytelling. Spring (North) would be the time to start back toward their main homes at the great river, for planting and repairing homes and fishing holes.
At this time I will input the fact that these homes (except for the sachems family) is on a first come first serve bases so if the last owner shows up both families work together an build one or the other a new home!
Summer (east) is the time for a gathering of all the people this gathering ( Paw-paus) would be a great Spiritual event and everyone would bring food and work together repairing and rebuilding the prayer circle of course with a great opening in the East to allow room for Creator and all of the ancestors to enter.
While the people are fellowshipping, telling their story of the past season and learning of members past while gone west and new members arriving while gone and so on the fire keeper and helpers would clean and clear the circle and get the fire ready for the time Creator comes to visit with the people.
The Sachem, with a warrior on each side to help and tend to any needs while dancing around this circle, these warriors would carry the Sachems gifts and staff if necessary to Creator and would be at the head of a line so as to pray to have a friendly gathering before entering the circle.
Sachem would at this time ask the people to please place any bad feelings, gossip, and bad thoughts at the east door, if they wanted them back after the paw-paus just let Creator know otherwise Creator will take them into his fire to burn forever and the people can be cleansed enough to enjoy dancing and drumming with Creator and the ancestors.
Each family (clan) had their own prayer staff with prayer bags and medicine pouches from past family members and animal family members, this staff would usually be carried into the circle through the east by the family’s Clan Mother. Next would be the elder women then elder men, younger women and children, last but by no means least would be all of the warriors keeping a close eye out for any unwanted guests. As you may now start to see this gathering is a little different from a modern day powwow that you may have gone to, this would be because first, remember we are of the matriarch society, but most of all I am writing about a Paw-Paus not a powwow!
They had no need for fancy ropes or railings around this circle each member would place their skins or fur blankets around and all knew that the correct way into Creators church was through the East, even our animal friends (always welcome into our church) seem to know that they are welcome to come dance and fellowship with the people, the ancestors and Creator, if they made a mistake someone, usually the fire keepers helper, would just pick it up and carry on with the gathering. No vendors nothing to sell every family would bring something for meals and the young women would cook, every family would also bring things for trade and give away.
Creator would come into the circle and take over the fire usually for about week.
I have broken no code or promise made to my elders by not going into our spirituality aspects during this gathering so traditional people please understand that we need to at least get something out on the net so non-natives can see that we still do our church.