HONOLULU (KHON2) — In Hollywood, the love of old western movies dominated the medium for decades.

In these interpretations of life in a colonized land, Native Americans were often portrayed as the bad guy, the sidekick or the traitor.

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

The loud drums and differently sounding musical intonations, the clothing that reflected indigenous peoples’ experiences, the communities that maintained their traditional cultures — these were all derided as barbaric and savage.

For First Nations peoples on the east coast of Turtle Island (North America), entire tribes were devastated by colonization. Customs, languages, traditions and families were completely lost to their descendants.

Once these tribes were relocated to other territories, they began to mingle with the less severely devastated western tribes. This helped many people to maintain tradition and help build back up the ancient knowledge that was lost.

In this mingling of cultures, the pow wow became a way for disparate tribes to connect and form bonds that provided strength.

A pow wow is a social gathering. It is meant to foster relationships and to clarify the mysteries that surround Native American life.

On Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2, the Oʻahu Native Nationz Organization is hosting a Pow wow in Paradise.

ONNO is a collection of Native American people who are guests here on Oʻahu. They live and work here and make it a point to respect and participate in Native Hawaiian culture and traditions.

As of the 2020 census, there are just under 4,000 Native Americans living and working on the islands.

The pow wow is taking place at Magic Island, and it is free and open to the public.

There will be traditional dancers who have come from the mainland to share their traditions with residents and visitors on Oʻahu.

Gabe Desrosiers is of the Anishinaabe nation and Diane Desrosiers is of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux Tribe) of the Lake Traverse Reservation in Northeastern South Dakota will be a part of this year’s celebrations.

Gabe will be taking on the role of what is known as Head Man while Diane will be Head Lady. They will be participating in the pow wow and will help attendees understand the meanings behind the dances and the music.

James “Bud” Day is Ojibwe and is this year’s emcee. He is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band in Northern Minnesota. He will also be participating and providing more information on the traditions that bind Native American social gatherings.

  • A man competes in the Men's Chicken dance at a pow wow in paradise in 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Lynnae Lawrence, M.D.)
  • A keiki girl competes in the Junior Girls Jingle dance a powwow in paradise in 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Lynnae Lawrence, M.D.)
  • A keiki boy competes in the Junior Chicken dance a powwow in paradise in 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Lynnae Lawrence, M.D.)
  • A woman competes in the Women's Jingle dance a powwow in paradise in 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Lynnae Lawrence, M.D.)
  • A photo shows Kumu Hina and ED for ONNO Dr. Lynnae Lawrence bridging indigenous cultures across the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Lynnae Lawrence, M.D.)

TBZ — The Boyz will be providing the traditional drumming for the event. They are contemporary pow wow singers who hail from Twin Cities, Minnesota.

There will be food, too! The ONNO group will be selling Native American fry bread and Native American tacos (made with fry bread). There will also be crafts. Indigenous made belts, skirts and other items will be available.

You will even have an opportunity to dance in the arena if you like. But, don’t be afraid that you do not know the dances or the music. The experience is personal and transcends racial identity.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

The event is free and open to the public. Both days, the pow wow will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Magic Island Beach Park.