The coliseum is packed with people and vendors—the entire field is covered. Orvil and his brothers buy themselves some Indian tacos and go up into the stands to eat. Loother and Lony make cracks at one another, but Orvil is nervous for his upcoming dance. His brothers ask him how much money he stands to win in the competition, but Orvil is afraid to jinx his chances. While his brothers daydream about all the things they could do with the money, Orvil finishes up his taco and heads down to the locker room to change.
Orvil is nervous and excited to be at the powwow—and no doubt overwhelmed to be around Native people expressing their culture and identity without reservation, shame, or hesitation.
In the locker room, Orvil slowly and carefully puts on his regalia. One of the larger men in the room gives a speech, urging first-time competitors to enjoy their dances as a kind of prayer and not worry about winning—dance is the “only” way “for an Indian man to express himself.”
Out on the field for the Grand Entry dance—an unjudged portion of the competition—Orvil looks around at all the other men in regalia, he feels inspired and excited. He admires the other men’s costumes, feeling a little like a fraud himself, but pushes the feeling from his mind as the music starts and he tries to focus on the dance. He feels one with the other men all around him, “Indians dressed up as Indians.”
Though Orvil is feeling a sense of swelling pride and confidence, there’s also a disconnect that comes from knowing that this part of his identity is inextricably intertwined with the performance aspect of it.