Pow-wow Booth

A pow-wow1 is a celebration of American Indian culture in which people from diverse indigenous nations gather to dance, sing, honor the traditions of their ancestors,2 and to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. The first pow-wow was held in nearby Dexterville by local Ho-Chunk people in 1925, and was then moved to Pittsville’s Riverside Park in subsequent years, where it became an annual 3-4 day event. The Ho-Chunk found the natural amphitheater in the park (now a baseball field known locally as ‘the pit’) a perfect setting for traditional dances and ceremonies. It was hoped that pow-wows would bring Native Americans and area people to a better understanding of each other. Up to 500 Native Americans from throughout Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, the Dakotas and Idaho participated. Tents and shelters were erected and fry bread, baskets and beadwork were offered for sale. Spectators and participants, including non-Native Americans, could number anywhere from 5,000-10,000 over the course of the weekend. Activities would also include dances with live bands, baseball games, and carnivals with rides, carnival games, concessions, food and more. Pow-wows continued annually in Riverside Park until 1968 when they were moved to another location on Ho-Chunk land. The pow-wow was invited back in 1987 as part of Pittsville’s Centennial celebration. You can find more history of the Pittsville Pow-wow in the book Yellow River Pioneers.

Powwow Booth at Riverside Park Entrance
Pow-wow Ticket Booth at its original location at the entrance to Riverside Park, where it was used to collect admissions to the Native American Pow-wows.
Closeup of Powwow Display
A closeup of some of the pow-wow memorabilia on display.
Powwow Booth - Inside
Exhibits on display inside the Pow-wow Booth include photos & memorabilia related to Native American Pow-wows, Riverside Park events and activities, & the early Pittsville City Band.
Powwow Booth
The Pow-wow ticket booth today. The booth was donated to PAHS in 2012 by the City of Pittsville.
Pow-Wow Advertising Poster 1987
Advertising Poster for the 1987 Centennial Pow-Wow
Pow-Wow Article 1922
Pow-Wow Newspaper Article 1922
Timeline of the Riverside Park Pow-Wows
Timeline of the Riverside Park Pow-Wows
Indian Dancers 1929
Indian Dancers 1929
The Chieftains, 1929
The Chieftains at 1929 Pow-Wow. Blind Chief George on the left, center; Wisconsin Governor Kohler to the right, center, with his wife to his left.
Indian Dancers in the Pit 1987
Indian Dancers in the Pit during the 1987 Centennial Pow-Wow
1940 Pow-Wow Program
Program from the 1940 Pow-Wow
Pow-Wow Ticket 1926
Ticket from the 1926 Pow-Wow

1The spelling of pow-wow is varied. Although you will find that in dictionaries it is spell as a single word (powwow), the word can also commonly be spelled as two words (pow wow) or hyphenated (pow-wow). It is often spelled differently even among Native Americans on their own documents. We have chosen to spell it hyphenated because that is how the people of our local Ho-Chunk Nation spell it, as in the official name of the “Andrew Blackhawk Memorial Pow-wow Grounds” near Black River Falls, WI. You can also see that it is spelled hyphenated on the official plaque celebrating the listing of the grounds in the National Register of Historic Places.
2Paraphrased from Encyclopedia Britannica

Andrew Blackhawk Memorial Pow-wow Grounds Plaque