The Powwow Guy

Home of Robert Phoenix and Traditional Pennsylvania German Powwow

The word "powwow"

In the early days of the German-speaking immigrants, the practice of "Powwow" was known as "Braucherei". This is a word that means "to use" or "to try".

Later, the English folks who witnessed the practice didn't have anything to compare it to, so they knew the Algonquin word "Pau Wau" (pronounced Pah-Wah) and coined it's spelling as "pow wow". This is the FIRST usage of the word "pow wow" in this spelling. The German-speaking immigrants were desperate to become Americans, so they accepted this title of "Powwow" and began using it.

In the early 1900's, the English started using the word "Powwow" to refer to gatherings of Native Americans. This was NOT the correct term for their gatherings, as they didn't use "Pau Wau" in that manner. But they liked the term so they accepted it and began using it.

The word "Powwow" was FIRST used by the Pennsylvania Germans. It later became the word (in the particular spelling) to mean a Native gathering (in the early 1900's).

The Smithsonian agrees with me on this point: CLICK HERE