Aujalee Moore, April Campbell
Material Type:
Lesson, Lesson Plan
High School
  • 10th Grade Tribal History Lesson Plans
  • Math
  • SB 13
  • SB13
  • Tribal History/Shared History
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

    Math: Are We Going to Make It to the Pow Wow?

    Math: Are We Going to Make It to the Pow Wow?


    This math lesson introduces students to an important element of Native American culture: the
    pow wow. These are public events in which Native people celebrate and share their culture; honor
    friends, family members, elders, and military veterans; participate in singing and dancing; and display traditional skills and crafts. There are more than a dozen pow wows held in Oregon each year, from early spring to early fall, in all regions of the state. Most pow wows are also open to non-Native people.

     In this lesson, pow wows serve as the basis for a task-rich exercise in which students choose which pow wow to attend and then calculate the related expenses. The lesson allows students to develop their skills in using math for contextual problem solving and to make informed decisions. 

    Math: Are We Going to Make It to the Pow Wow?

    For many Native people, pow wows are a time of gathering and connecting with friends and relatives. These celebrations, which typically take place from spring to early fall, are a way to share knowledge and traditions with others and a time to honor veterans, friends and relatives who have died, recent graduates, toddlers learning to dance, and more. Many families participate in the “Pow Wow Trail” to support their families and their way of life. Pow wows typically include dancing and regalia contests across a variety of age groups and dance categories, and drummers and singers also compete for recognition and prize money. Most pow wows have vendors who sell food and merchandise, as
    well as some youthful entrepreneurs who sell items to support future travels and endeavors.

     Many pow wows are open to the public and can be enjoyed by all. In addition to dancing, shopping, and eating there might be other activities, such as basketball tournaments, information booths about local colleges, and more. Those who are just learning about pow wow etiquette should not be afraid to ask those around them, as most people are happy to share their knowledge about these traditional celebrations. Pow wows are drug and alcohol free; use of such items is prohibited and frowned upon.

     People not familiar with pow wow culture may mistakenly call regalia “costumes.” It is important to know that the clothing and adornments are not costumes and are called regalia for a reason. Some pieces of regalia are handed down between families or created specifically for the type of dancer or to reflect the dancer’s personality or identity. Many tribal nations have unique designs or colors that carry meaningful messages.

     This task is meant for student exploration and application of skills in a particular context. Students may have a diverse set of correct answers based on their choices, but those choices must meet the requirement of the assignment and show appropriate application of math skills. Students should be encouraged to utilize resources that are available to them, including other students, since answers are unique and each student will be asked to justify
    their choices.

     Use the links below to access resources for this lesson:

    Lesson Plan​

    Additional Materials