Sioux Pow-Wow Songs

All Nations Singers.

Canyon Records
Leader: Louie Chaske

The singers of these pow-wow songs are from Canada – from the village of Pipestone in Manitoba, about thirty miles north of the International Peace Gate at the Canadian/united States border. Known as the ALL NATIONS SINGERS,, under the leadership of Louis Chaske, they are a Sioux group popluar on both sides of the border. They are heard regularly at pow-wows through the Northern Plains area.

The songs were recorded at the Sioux Valley Pow-Wow. Some were recorded during the actual dance action; some were done at other times during the festivities. They are chiefly war dance songs, or "grass dance songs" as they are known among the Northern Plains Sioux groups.

The dancer on the cover exhibits one of a variety of grass dance outfits. It should be pointed out that dancers on the Northern Plains are very creative in their dance clothing. Individuality is expressed in many forms and new fashions frequently appear at the summer pow-wows. The following comments, therefore, apply as much as possible to the dancer pictured.

One of the more important parts of the outfit is the "roach." The one shown hangs midway down the back and is constructed from porcupine quills and deer tail hair. It is attached to a beaded harness which positions the roach in the center of the head, unlike those on the southern plains which are worn more forward. A beaded heart is attached to each side of the harness which has tassels or ribbons hanging from it; those illustrated hang below the waist and have plumes attached at the end. A roach spreader, not visible, anchors two wires with large plumes attached at the ends. These antennae are in constant motion as the dancer moves. Scarves, strips of beadwork, or ribbons may hang from the back of the roach spreader.

Grass dancers carry a variety of items in their hands. Here we see a dance hoop, probably 7" in diameter, with fur attached in ribbons hanging down from the middle. In his right hand is carried a wooden whistle, the end carved to resemble a crane. Halfway down the stem an eagle feather dangles. He might have elected to hold a mirror board, eagle-bone whistle, fan, or scarves.

Beadwork, ideally, should all match in design and colors. Shown here is a set of geometrically designed cuffs, belt, and armbands, on a white bead background. A very popular item, but not shown on this dancer, is the "H-Harness." This wide piece of beadwork hangs around the neck and from the shoulders to the knees with a matching piece of beadwork sometimes connecting across the chest, hence the "H" designation. Barely visible on this dancer is a bone breastplate hanging from his neck and covering the chest.

A large scarf tied around the neck is shown hanging down in front – kept in place by a beaded tie slide.

Shirts can be made from almost any material on hand. A solid black is a popular color. It is decorated with fringe from four to six inches in length, with six being the most popular. The fringe shown here appears to make a "V" in the middle of the back. Fringe should be sew over the shoulder seam down to the middle of the arm pit so that you have fringe hanging down the arm of the shirt as shown. This particular shirt is probably left plain in the front since a breastplate is being worn.

Pants, like the shirt, can be made from any material. This dancer has cut a triangle out at the outside seam near the bottom of each cuff and replaced the material with cloth of a different color for contrast. The pants thus have a "bellbottom" appearance. Fringe has been sewn on both the front and back in a "V" shape.

Although not shown, this dancer should be wearing ankle bells – five or six on a strap at each angle. Angora anklets are sometimes worn under these which are usually large sheep bells.

The front apron shown varies greatly in shape and decoration. This one has a beaded American flag and probably several beaded rosettes. Fringe matching the pants and shirts is attached to the outside border.

This apron is one of the most colorful parts of the costume when it is decked out in ribbon strips sewn in V-shapes. The ends can be seen hanging loose for several feet.

Hanging below the belt on the left side is a side tab or holster. Occasionally dancers will wear a pennant here with the name of their reservation on it, or the name of their hometown or state. Lengths vary but the fringe matches the other clothes. This dancer's tab has a beaded heart attached.

This outfit is completed with the moccasins which can be either of a Plains hardsole kind or the Woodlands soft sole. These appear to be tennis sneakers, comfortable and inexpensive.

Notes . . . . Glenn H. White

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Performed by


Native Words



Pow Wow Song 1 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 2 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 3 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 4 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 5 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 6 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 7 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 8 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 9 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 10 Sioux
Pow Wow Song 11 Sioux