March 28, 2016

Powwows are "magic" at A Pow Wow Is An Event Where Indians Practice 'Magic'

By Simon, a popular website of definitions and synonyms, defines a pow wow as an event where Native Americans—wait for it—practice "magic," ICTMN discovered Monday.

In its official definition, the website writes that a 'powwow' is "[among North American Indians] a ceremony, especially one accompanied by magic, feasting, and dancing, performed for the cure of disease, success in a hunt, etc."

The discovery of the curious definition comes weeks after a heated debate surrounding author J.K. Rowling's latest series, "A History of Magic In North America." In it, fictional Native Americans practice witchcraft and wizardry. Rowling is the author of the widely-successful 'Harry Potter' series.

Sarah Ortegon, a jingle dress dancer who is currently studying fancy shawl, told ICTMN Monday that although the beauty of pow wows can "cast a spell" on viewers, it is not magic in its official definition.
After a couple of days of online complaints, the problem was Agrees to Drop 'Magic' From 'Powwow' Definition

By Simon Moya-SmithOn Monday, ICTMN reported that, the world's leading digital dictionary, defines “powwow” as an event where Native Americans practice “magic.” Since then, Native Americans and others have taken to social media to express their disapproval over the antiquated definition.

Within 24 hours, officials at responded to ICTMN stating they will change their definition of “powwow,” and that they will effectively remove the word “magic.”

“The word ‘magic’ does not appear in our revised definition,” Stephanie Cooley, spokesperson for, said in an email.

“After reviewing the entry for ‘powwow’ we concluded that the definition did not reflect the history and usage of the term, and so we’ve drafted changes to reflect this. We plan to reach out to a professor of Native American Studies as part of our editorial process. With almost half a million entries, sometimes outdated or erroneous definitions can go overlooked and we depend upon our dedicated users to let us know if they come across any entries in need of review that we’ve missed,” she wrote in an email.
Comment:  Why would anyone think a social event like a powwow had "magic" dances? Because non-Natives think all Indian dances are meant to call spirits or whatever.

According to the prevailing stereotype, Indians aren't normal like other people. They're otherworldly, with supernatural powers that let them talk to animals, control the weather, or summon demons.

Needless to say, the definition is silly. Not only because of the "magic" reference, but the whole thing. Curing disease, insuring a successful hunt...these are ceremonies done within a tribe on religious occasions. Not dances done among tribes on social occasions. Other than the concept of Indians dancing, the two have little or nothing in common.

For more on the subject, see Fictional Potterverse vs. Real Native Religions and Rowling Colonizes and Vanishes Indians.

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