The Native American powwow has served to maintain the culture of North America’s Indigenous peoples since before the arrival of European colonialists. In traditional forms of the powwow, competition is not common whereas contest powwows are characterized by the primacy of competition. We assess similarities and differences between the contest powwow and competitive sport found within the broader American society through in-depth semi-structured interviews with 14 competitive contest powwow dancers. We address a number of questions through the qualitative research process, such as what does the powwow mean to you? What are your primary goals for competing? We analyzed the qualitative data via a three-step coding process (open coding, axial coding, and theme development). We demonstrate that although the participants compete with a high degree of seriousness, they maintain traditional collectivist values and attitudes. Further, we conclude that the contest powwow serves to maintain and reproduce the unique characteristics of traditional Native American culture within the competitive contest powwow environment.


collectivism, coding, contest powwow, Native American, sport, qualitative research, theme development

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Steven Aicinena joined the faculty of The University of Texas Permian Basin in the fall of 1988. Before earning his Doctorate in Education at The University of Northern Colorado, he was a high school teacher/coach at Crownpoint High School, located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. He taught Physical Education, Earth Science and Biology and coached the sports of volleyball, basketball, football, and track. Aicinena started the athletic program at UTPB and served as Athletic Director from 1993 through June of 2017. At the time he returned to the Faculty full-time, the program had grown to include 16 NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports. In addition to teaching and administration for UTPB, Aicinena served as the Head Volleyball Coach from 1993 through the spring of 2014. His teams won three conference championships and he received two coach of the year awards. His career coaching record was 357-321. Aicinena’s research interests are varied. Publications ranged from sport and religion to pedagogy to sport sociology. Photography is a hobby about which he is passionate. Please direct correspondence to aicinena_s@utpb.edu.

Dr. Sebahattin Ziyanak is Associate Professor in Sociology at The University of Texas Permian Basin. Dr. Ziyanak holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Texas. He received his M.A. in sociology from the University of Houston, Texas and his B.S. in sociology from the Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is the recipient of the President's Research Award in 2020, La Mancha Society Golden Windmill Research Award in 2018 and the Outstanding Excellence in Teaching with the National Society of Leadership and Success in 2018, Outstanding Instructor Recognition in Teaching with Thank A Teacher program for Commitment to UNT Student Success in 2012 and 2013. He contributed the following books: Political Sociology (2020), Sociological Studies of Environmental Conflict (2019), Introduction to Sociology (2019), Turkish Immigrants in the Mainstream of American Life: Theories of International Migration (2018), Analyzing Delinquency among Kurdish Adolescents: A Test of Hirschi’s Social Bonding Theory (2015), and Crossroad: A Grassroots Organization for the Homeless in Houston (2008). He also contributed book chapters, and articles to a variety of publications. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Odessa Links for Odessa Homeless Coalition. He was the President of Peace Academy of West Texas between 2018- 2019. His fields of research are in the subjects of delinquency, deviance, social organization, social movement, sociology of education, environmental studies, and race and ethnicity. Please direct correspondence to ziyanak_s@utpb.edu.

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