The names pop up quickly on Whitney Rencountre’s computer screen, and he greets them as he would in person.
What’s up, y’all? Shout out to you. How’s it going? Ya’at’eeh. Good to see you, relatives.
He spots someone from the Menominee Nation, a Wisconsin tribe that hosts competitive dancers, singers and drummers in traditional regalia in late summer.
“Beautiful powwow there,” he says.
The emcee from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in South Dakota typically is on the powwow circuit in the spring, joining thousands of others in colorful displays of culture and tradition that are at their essence meant to uplift people during difficult times. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the gatherings are taking on a new form online.
“Sometimes we have this illusion that we’re in total control, but it takes times like this of uncertainty and the challenges of the possibility of death to help us step back and reevaluate,” said Rencountre, a co-organizer of the Facebook group Social Distance Powwow, which sprung up about a month ago as more states and tribes advised people to stay home.