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Interview: Native American Powwow Dancer

Gabe Bullock of the Alabama Coushatta

Gabe Bullock, head dancer at a pow wow held at Rice University, talks about the dancing, the costumes, and the celebration of Native American traditions.

Gabe Bullock making two feather bustles
Photo: Sandy Peters
Gabe Bullock, the headman dancer at this powwow, made two feather bustles. He wears these colorful bustles when he performs Fancy Dancing. He uses the hoops in the front of the photo when he does the Hoop Dance.

Fancy athletic dancing with fast footwork

Photo: Sandy Peters
Gabe Bullock and another dancer each wear two colorful bustles as they do some very athletic fancy dancing which involves some fast footwork.


TOPICS: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Gabe Bullock: I'm from the Alabama Coushatta Reservation in Texas. I'm 26 years old, and I'm the headman at tonight's powwow. I'm half Sac & Fox and half Alabama-Coushatta.

TOPICS: Where and how often do you perform at powwows?

Gabe Bullock: I dance all over the country; I dance every weekend. I started dancing when I was young and picked it up professionally at 22.

TOPICS: Where do you get your costumes?

Gabe Bullock: I make all my own costumes, except for the beadwork and fringe on the capes. I do most of it by myself. I feel comfortable doing it myself.

TOPICS: What are you making here?

Gabe Bullock: These are feather bustles for fancy dancing. They're very colorful. The outfit I wear represents both the Sac & Fox and the Alabama-Coushatta. Fancy Dancing is very athletic and has fast footwork.

TOPICS: What are the hoops for?

Gabe Bullock: I also do the Hoop Dance. It's a style most people want to do. They say it started on the Tahoe Taos Reservation. I learned it as I was growing up. I learned by watching. It was just something in my mind that I wanted to do. It's not a tradition from our tribe; it's something we picked up.

TOPICS: What about the music?

Gabe Bullock: We sing as we dance. I've been singing for about a year.

TOPICS: Thank you Gabe Bullock for sharing information about powwow dancing with us. You've provided a special cultural experience for our readers.

Interview: Pow Wow Dancer, Brinder Jacobs

A Close-up Look: Native American Pow Wow Dress

International student's reaction: The Pow Wow Dancing Mesmerized Me

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