Bike rallies and powwows

Had a conflict of interest the other weekend. I guess I could have used a clone. In Beulah was the Roughrider’s annual rally. It’s a great rally, lots of shovelheads, evos and twin cams there. I’ve always been impressed by the old school bikes that are kin to the Roughriders.

Straight north, along the shores of Lake Sakakawea was the Twin Buttes Powwow. It’s my favorite powwow of all that I’ve sampled and attended. I guess it may be because my adopted Indian roots are there. It’s where I was adopted in to three clans of the tribe and introduced with my Indian name. So, in a manner of speaking, it’s sort of like my birthplace.

It was a challenging decision which to go to, the biker rally where my lifestyle is welcomed and embraced, or to the powwow where I have certain roots.

I chose the powwow as you can see from these photos on this page. But while I was there, I saw a lot of similarities between the two sub-cultures – Native Americans and bikers.

In both cases, people come to the event from many miles away. Socializing is a high priority in either case. Laughter and fun permeate either gathering.

Both are full of color and flair – the one with its costumes and regalia, the other with its chrome and paint. The owners of those visual displays, whether they are costumes or machines, undoubtedly have a sense of pride about their work.

Powwows and motorcycle rallies also share a similar kind of community environment. At either, you’ll see a temporary city of tents or campers to mark the resident’s base camp. It’s not the kind of camping you’d see at a homeless camp, but rather what you’d see at a family reunion – happy and content.

There is always music at both events, music of it’s own flavor – hard rock at rallies, and Native American drum groups and singers at the other.

Both are known for body art. The dancers at a powwow wear traditional face and body paint to signify different aspects of their identity. The same is true of bikers. Only their body art is usually much more permanent. Tattoos are meaningful tributes and stories to a biker’s life.

The ruling class of government hasn’t always appreciated powwows. In fact, they were for many years outright banned. Motorcycle rallies are moving in that direction. In fact, Myrtle Beach outlawed its annual rally this year. The ruling government authority usually heavily patrols those rallies that do continue.

So, I guess no matter which of the two events I had chosen to attend, I’d have been with the same kinds of people, those who revel in their identities and choose a way of life that is outside the white bread culture of middle America.

(Recommendation: Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be prejudiced. Check out the nearest powwow. It’s not a scary place. Take your camera. Go to the evening Grand Entry — you won’t be disappointed at the sights and atmosphere.)

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One Response to “Bike rallies and powwows”

  1. WildKatDeluxe Says:

    You are so right in your comparison of the two cultures. I have never thought about it that way but it makes immense sense. Very thought provoking. Nice recommendation at the end. Good blog! Keep it up!

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