The Pow-Wows are usually held in secret from people who are not in the community of Indeanist.. That’s why it’s hard to get there.. But in 2007, the Indeanists of Moscow and St. Petersburg agreed to participate in Tipi Festival to share the culture of North America’s Native people with others.. Me and my friend Oleg, both interested in Native Americans, decided to go there a day before.. As the Tipifest was held out of Moscow, we decided to go camping, but our preparations took so long that by the time when we found the place it was past midnight already.. It was raining.. We were all wet, hungry and tired of hours of walking.. The place was a wide field.. Far ahead we noticed a light and heard people laughing and talking.. These were the organizers! They were so impressed to see us, strangers coming out of nowhere in the middle of the night for joining the Tipifest that they offered us to stay in one of the tipis prepared for the festival.. We had a tipi now, we had wood for fire and we became friends with organizers of the festival, who said that we can stay here for another night when the festival is over..
When next day in the morning we woke up and went to look for fresh water, Indeanists were already there.. Some were singing, some were doing their morning exercises.. Others were smoking a pipe.. Festival was to start in the afternoon, so we got fresh water and went back to the tipi.. The whole morning we spent drinking tea, cooking food, eating and resting.. A little before the festival began, suddenly a head of a man appeared through the door.. We smiled and said “Hi”.. “Hey, you all come here! There are Indians inside,” he shouted out and few seconds later a group of heads appeared in the tipi.. “Are you Indians? Are you real Indians?” The heads were curious about us.. “Oh no, no.. We just live here.. Please, come in and have some tea..” One of our friends from Moscow joined us later, and we went to see the opening ceremony.. Introduction, greetings, and even a speech on Sioux language.. All in bright and colourful dresses..
Accepting “To Learn and To Preserve” as their motto throughout the 40 years of their history Indeanists of Russia learned the Sioux language, traditional songs and dances, rites and ceremonies.. Based on historical documents Indeanist recreated the traditional clothes.. All the dresses you see on the photos are handmade.. They published Sioux-Russian dictionaries.. And with coming of Internet they launched several websites dedicated to Native people of North, Central and South Americas where they gathered stories, legends, biographies, photos, articles and other materials..
We had a chance to talk with the leader of Moscow Indeanists, Evil Eye (the one playing flute on the photo below).. He said that for many years they are in touch with Native Americans from the US and Canada.. Often they visit Russian Pow-Wow.. “We had an old guy who attended our Pow-Wow,” said Evil Eye. “With tears in his eyes he said that many of their children already forgot their culture and that it would be great if some of Russian Indeanists could visit the US and teach them our culture..”
During the Tipi Fest Indeanists performed traditional dances and Native American songs.. Later workshops were organized for everyone to learn something.. A dance, or a song.. Or Sioux language basics.. One of the Indeanists, Ieska presented me a Sioux-Russian phrasebook.. The workshop on traditional handicraft was especially popular among ladies..
Later in the evening it rained hard.. In the afternoon we met new friends, so we invited them to spend the night in the tipi.. Sitting around the fire we shared stories and played djembes.. We didn’t know we were saying goodbye to Autumn.. Because when we woke up in the morning and left the tipi there was snow all around..