Chairman says event meant to share Native American culture
If, as it is said, the drum is the heart of Native Americans, then the pulse of its beating will be heard this Labor Day weekend at Lake Shawnee.
That is where dancers from various American Indians tribes and nations will gather Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Shawnee County Allied Tribes Inc.'s 22nd annual Traditional Inter-Tribal Powwow.
A traditional powwow, explained Shawnee County Allied Tribes Inc. president Paul Williams, differs from those where dancers and drums compete for cash prizes.
Williams, who has roots in both the Muskogee (Creek) Nation and Cherokee Nation on his father’s side of the family, said the focus of a traditional powwow is social and educational.
In addition to giving powwow participants a chance to spend time with family and friends, spectators can learn about Native American culture.
“We want the public to come out and see what the music is and feel the drum, the heartbeat of the drum, and to learn about the culture, the art, the crafts,” Williams said Thursday morning as volunteers prepared the powwow grounds, which are just off Tinman Circle behind Reynolds Lodge.
The grounds will be open to the public from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Admission is by a button, which is good for the entire festival and can be purchased at the gate for $8 or in advance at various locations for $6. Children 11 and younger get in free with an adult.
In addition to merchandise vendors, there also will be concessionaires whose bill of fare will include Indian tacos, fry bread, corn on the cob and buffalo burgers.
Each session of the powwow will begin with gourd dancing — 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and noon to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday — in which men dressed in their regalia, with a fan in one hand and a gourd rattle in the other, lift their heels to the rhythm of songs that used to be sung after battles to honor those who lost their lives and those who defended their people.
Women dance behind the men, representing the family back home supporting the warriors. Butch Tabsequah, Comanche-Kiowa, will be the head gourd dancer.
At 7 p.m. Friday and 1:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, there will be a grand entry. A color guard carrying the U.S. flag, eagle staff and other flags will enter the arena, followed by all the dancers.
Leading the grand entries this year will be the Wichita Kansas Intertribal Warrior Society Honor Guard, which in 1992 traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 10th Vietnam Memorial anniversary.
At the conclusion of a prayer ceremony at the black wall bearing the names of Vietnam casualties, a war lance was ceremonially passed from a member dressed in buckskin to a member dressed as World War I doughboy to one dressed as a WWII soldier and finally to a Vietnam veteran, who drove the war lance into the ground, near a section of names with whom he had served. The lance is now part of the Smithsonian’s collection.
Photo Credit Jackie Stoner via Flickr
For the rest of each dance session, dancers dressed in a variety of regalia will step to different beats, generally classified as Northern and Southern, which differ in tempo and style of singing.
Cy Ahtone, Kiowa, will be the Northern emcee, and the K-20 Boyz, Leonard Cashman, head singer, will be the host Northern drum. Robert Tehauno, Kiowa-Comanche, will be the head singer of the host Southern drum, and Chick Hale, Prairie Band Potawatomi-Kickapoo, will be the Southern emcee.
Jerry “Harjo” Girod, a Creek-Choctaw, is this year’s head man dancer, and Josette “Angie” Wahwasuck, Prairie Band Potawatomi-Apache, will serve as head woman dancer.
Honored elders at this year's powwow will be Vernona “Vernie” Lewis, Prairie Band Potawatomi-Chocktaw, on Saturday, and the late Ron and Elna Acuna, Cherokee-Apache, on Sunday.
The arena directors are Randy Dave Sr., Yakima-Cayuse, and Alan Lewis, Prairie Band Potawatomi.
Article By Bill Blankenship SOURCE