Ancient Traditions, Modern Constructions: Innovation, Continuity, and Spirituality on the Powwow Trail

Dennis F. Kelley


In contemporary Indian Country, the majority of people who identify as Indian fall into the urban category: away from traditional lands and communities, in cities and towns wherein the opportunities to live one s identity as Native can be restricted, and even more so for American Indian religious practice and activity.

This article will explore a possible theoretical model for discussing the religious nature of urban Indians, using aspects of the contemporary powwow as exemplary, and suggest ways in which the discourse on Native American religious practices can inform the larger discussion of religion in general by implying a comparative direction between urban Indians and other religious actors in American secular society.


American Indian, Performance, Identity, Ethnicity, Spirituality, Dance, Religion, Powwow, Embodiment, Modernity

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