Books 1983 Omaha Harvest Celebration Pow-Wow Fieldnotes by Carl Fleischhauer
I had noticed that the singers and their pair of drums were located in the center of the arena, and I wanted to look over this the area to plan my microphone setup. The good thing was that there was a roof over the singers where I could hang microphones and cables, but the bad thing was that it was about 75 feet from the arena edge (where I planned to set my tape recorder) to the center. The mike cables would have to be strung through the air like telephone lines and, considering the cable I would need to go up and down the poles at either end, I reckoned I would need 100′ of cable for each microphone placed at the center.
The day's activities had begun just before I left to go to the airport. The first event was the Grand Entry, led by David Blackbird, the lead dancer or “whipman,” carrying an American flag. This event led me to unlimber my cameras and start shooting. By the time Dorothy and I were introduced to Wolfe, the pow-wow was several dances into the afternoon. As we talked, I asked Wolfe about going out to the center for a look-see. He explained the correct way to enter the arena. Wolfe said that one should enter at the main gate at the east end of the arena, and proceed in clockwise fashion around the center. It wasn't quite clear to me how strictly I was to observe that rule when I was heading for the center for “technical” purposes. Dancers and singers, of course, were to be very strict about it. I compromised, entering in the east and slipping around the periphery until I reached a halfway point and crossed to the center.
As I did this, I noticed two or three men with wooden sticks or white painted canes. They were wearing officials' vest: a red vest with the pow-wow name and symbol on the back. I saw later that there were white shawls with the the same symbol, worn by the women members of the pow-wow committee when they danced. The men with the vests and canes seemed to be occupied largely with shooing errant dogs and children out of the arena. I later saw that these men, called Arena Directors, were in charge of more general matters of decorum, but dogs and children occupied some of their attention during the whole weekend. Macy seemed to be home for a large number of relatively unhealthy looking mutts, dogs that reminded of the “pi” or pariah dogs I had seen in India. It was never clear to me whether they had individual owners, or just roamed freely through the town.
The roof over the singers and drums was a somewhat rough affair made of two-by-fours and covered with about four sheets of four-by-eight fiberboard, all painted white. The frame of two-by-fours, I could see, would provide me with an ideal support for a stereo microphone pair for the main drums.
I had expected a single drum with the singers, but the setup here had a pair of equal-sized drums surrounded by a group of about ten to fifteen men sitting in an oval. There was but one leader, Head-Singer Rufus White. I later learned that this arrangement seemed unusual to Maria LaVigna, a veteran of the pow-wow circuit. She said that normally she would expect only one drum per unit. Indeed, for several songs—notably the shorter items for contests—the group would divide into