Many tents were ready to sell anything and everything “authentically” Native American. I would have believed that too except that I picked up a flute that had a “Made in India” sticker on it. The vendors themselves were friendly and sometimes even talkative. Hanging from one of the tents was a sign that read, “Tipi for sale. $680.00. Good price.” I couldn’t help but giggle. Was this a joke? The tipi was rolled up and leaning to the right of the advertisement. Behind the Pow-Wow there was a group of tipis set up. Winnebagos, sort of modern-day tipi on wheels, were surrounding them. Blankets could easily be seen in one of the tipis. They were really being used. In front of one of the tipis an older couple was cooking a meal on an open fire. It called to mind a similar experience I had outside Amman, Jordan. I was walking back to the hotel with a friend when I looked out into the horizon and saw Bedouins camped not far from a high-rise building. It was fascinating to see the old way of life mixing easily with the new.
It was ironic that as I left the Pow-Wow the song on the radio was crying, “Reservation Blues. What do you choose? What do you choose when ain’t got choices. Reservation Blues.” I didn’t see this side of Native American life. For me, the Pow-Wow was a chance to see the extraordinary costumes and dancing. However, the real experience, the human one, took place in that little shop on the right hand side of the road.