1620s, "priest, sorcerer," from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Narragansett) powwaw "shaman, medicine man, Indian priest," from a verb meaning "to use divination, to dream," from Proto-Algonquian *pawe:wa "he dreams, one who dreams." Meaning "magical ceremony among North American Indians" is recorded from 1660s. Sense of "council, conference, meeting" is first recorded 1812. Verb sense of "to confer, discuss" is attested from 1780.
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