A pow wow (also powwow or pow-wow) is a social gathering held by many different American Indian communities. The word is derived from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning "spiritual leader". A similar gathering by California Indians, usually in the fall, is called a Big Time. A modern pow wow is a specific type of event for American Indian people to meet and dance, sing, socialize, and honor their cultures. Pow wows may be private or public. There is generally a dancing competition, often with significant prize money awarded. Pow wows vary in length from a one-day event, to major pow wows called for a special occasion which can be up to one week long.
In popular culture, such as older Western movies, the term has also been used to describe any gathering of Indians, or to refer to any type of meeting, such as among military personnel. However, such use may be viewed as cultural appropriation and disrespectful.