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Headman Dancer holds special role at annual Montana Powwow

The Arlee Celebration selects one Headman Dancer and Headwoman dancer to represent the powwow each year.
Arlee Headman Dancer
Posted at 6:54 AM, Jul 09, 2024

ARLEE, Montana — People gathered at the annual Arlee Celebration to watch dancers from all across the state, but one dancer in particular has a special role.

William Meseth, Jr. — who was selected as Headman Dancer for this year’s celebration — says he's honored to hold this title.

“Honestly, it's, it's a good feeling especially at my hometown powwow being around my family and my close friends and it's just a great honor,” Meseth said.

The Headman is a selection process that happens each year by the powwow committee, and his grandfather Allen Pierre has been selected as Headman five times.

“I tell my grandson as you are out there being head man, you hold that responsibility,” Pierre said, “you bring out the dancers, you call out the dancers. You're the first one out there.”

 Meseth said it is much more than dancing for him.

 “My reason why I continue to dance is to represent where I come from, represent my family, my tribe and to dance for my close friends and close family members that have passed on,” Meseth said.

The Headman spends the year fundraising and hosts a special contest to give back to his community during the powwow.

The Salish and Pend O’Reille elders began the event over 100 and wanted it to be a celebration of their people.

“We call it a celebration and not a powwow,” Pierre said, “we are celebrating our people We come to celebrate the life. We come to celebrate the heartbeat of Mother Earth," Meseth said. "We come to see our friends that we see because we travel every weekend, we're going somewhere different, and we see a lot of our friends. So we do this as a way of life.”

 Meseth will hand off his title after this year’s event and the next Headman and Headwoman will be selected for the 125th Annual Arlee Celebration.