Tempe Native

If you've been watching the "All War, All the Time" networks, your vision of a warrior probably includes a Marine in combat fatigues going door to door with an AK-47. But this weekend's ASU Pow Wow 2003, held in conjunction with American Indian Culture Week, will celebrate another kind of warrior -- one steeped in tradition and exuding grace. These warriors use the ancient dances of their tribes to remember and honor old traditions, reflect on the past, and celebrate the future.

The Pow Wow, taken from the Algonquin word "Pau Wau" (meaning medicine man or spiritual leader), was created to preserve culture and tradition, and as a way to socialize with other Native Americans from across the continent. Originally held as purely social events, contest dancing became popular in the 1920s, and now most Pow Wows involve some sort of competitive category.

Lee Williams, the Pow Wow organizer for more than 14 years, says that competitors will come from all over the continent to participate. "It's pretty much like the Rodeo Circuit," says Williams. "There is one Pow Wow per weekend all year 'round."

Williams, who works as a researcher at ASU's Cancer Research Institute, says that some visitors come even farther than the competitors. "Last year, we had some foreign visitors -- they came all the way from Australia," he says.

In addition to the dancing, there will also be booths selling Native American crafts and artwork, as well as Native American food.

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Quetta Carpenter