photography from the ground up

Native Dancers

The Starfeather Pow Wow at Jemez Pueblo is a popular gathering among Native American dancers. They bring with them their songs, drums, dances, and dancing regalia. The result is a sight to behold: whirling, colorful costumes, with feather, bone, and beaded accessories provide a visual symphony for locals and visitors alike.


The Starfeather Pow Wow is held each year on Memorial Day and is considered one of the highlights of the Pow Wow season. The first image shows a dancer’s feather bustle swaying with his movement during an inter-tribal dance. The singing for the dances was performed by fourteen individual drum teams from across the country. The drums provide the rhythm for the dance and the vocalizations describe the basis for interpreting the movements.


These two native beauties are from Utah and Arizona. They are dressed in colorful, traditional jingle dresses, and carry eagle and turkey feather fans. Collecting or possessing eagle feathers is against the law except for American Indians who use them for ceremonies and gatherings. To native people, feathers symbolize freedom, honor and strength.


I have lived near and known Native Americans for close to forty years, but when I saw this guy, I immediately thought: quintessential American Indian. He is Mescalero Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa, and lives in southeastern New Mexico. He told me that he’s been dancing since he was three years old.


A transplanted Lakota Sioux who now makes his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico performs in the “Golden Years” dance competition, a special category for those fifty and over.


These two “Little Warriors” captured the imagination of the crowd in their traditional “dog soldier” costumes and headdresses. Notice the “attitude” in their expressions. The hair-pipe breastplates, feather bustles, and headdresses were made by the boys’ father.

25 responses

  1. Fantastic photos, Jim, and very interesting narrative. Makes me wish I was there!!


    May 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

  2. everythingthatshimmers

    Amazing and powerful images. Perfectly captured moments. Each picture tells a complete story. Each photograph welcomes you into another world.


    May 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  3. What an incredible photo opportunity Jim. The Little Warriors is PRICELESS – I adore it!


    May 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    • Thanks Tina. It’s been a while since I’ve gone down to the pueblo for this. I’m happy that I went this year.


      May 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

  4. Terrific scenes of this event!


    May 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

  5. I absolutely love these, Jim. You have no idea how much they make me want to see the real thing…..maybe one day!


    May 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm

  6. Love your photo’s of the dancers.Great work.


    May 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm

  7. De magnifiques photos, pour des costumes et des êtres qui le sont tout autant !


    June 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

  8. Really beautiful pictures, would love to see the dancers one day.


    June 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

  9. This is beautiful and so interesting to see another culture portrayed this way 🙂


    June 17, 2013 at 5:54 am

    • Thank you. These are actually dancers from many different tribes, so there are different interpretations. It’s pretty amazing.


      July 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm

  10. Wow!


    June 17, 2013 at 11:40 pm

  11. What fantastic images. They give such vibrancy!


    July 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

  12. Absolutely stunning photos and thank you for the informative and interesting text ! // Maria 🙂


    July 4, 2013 at 6:05 am

  13. Wonderful work !!


    July 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  14. Great shots. I like the face paint and feathers on those kids!


    July 24, 2013 at 1:29 am

  15. Reblogged this on nikiforivanov.


    July 25, 2013 at 5:25 am

  16. very inspiration picture.. culture keeps us alive.
    nice to know you work Jim.. amazing


    October 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm

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