Though many believe that my husband is a ‘nice Italian boy’, he is actually a sweet Native American man. And each year the tribe he belongs to holds their annual Pow Wow in Oregon, just an hour and a half from downtown Portland. The perfect opportunity to visit one of the coolest towns in the United States and get a peek into my spouses heritage.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s annual Pow Wow is a colorful event featuring  the culture of competitive dancing, powerful drums, and fry bread. All the makings of a perfect afternoon.

The festivities take place in the town of Grande Ronde and cost a whopping one dollar donation for entrance. I will gladly sacrifice a quarter of my Starbucks cappuccino to participate in a memorable event that exhibits an unknown culture.

I would actually sacrifice more than that. And we did.

Even in the parking lot, we were immediately struck by dozens of people dressed in the traditional colorful garb. The dress was elaborate and exquisite.  It made my typical black attire look drab in comparison. And the children were absolutely precious.

A large centered tent was where all the major action happened, namely the dancing which included a fierce competition in the the fancy feather and shawl dance.

Many of the Native American dances rival the passion of the flamenco in Spain.

You are mesmerized by their speed, intensity and the expressions on their faces. And it is just one more shimmy that I will probably never master.

The drums pounded specifically to match the dance being performed. They were so powerful that I stood before them for several minutes, with an entranced stare. It was the combination of the hammering, energy and chanting that made it so enthralling.

Feathers and vibrant colors seemed to be the general theme when it came to the attire. The feather in the females hair represent their current relationship status, one for single and two for married.

There is no option for ‘it’s complicated’.

Of course there were several food booths featuring fry bread. And though many attendees were simply getting it plain than dousing it with honey, we ordered the one with beans and cheese.

It was cheesy goodness and reminiscent of the ‘fried dough’ my Italian grandmother used to prepare for me.

This unique event gave me a glimpse inside of my husbands family tree and showed the sense of pride within this culture.

Have you ever been to a Pow Wow? What is your favorite cultural dance?