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October 20, 2013

NCC Intertribal Powwow celebrates Native American Indian culture, heritage

Port Royal, TN – The Native Cultural Circle’s 16th Annual Intertribal Powwow celebrated Native American Indian culture and heritage with the Greater Clarsville-Montgomery County community. The two-day festival provided opportunities for visitors to learn of and experience firsthand elements of Native American Indian life- looking to the Cherokee as the mainstay, the customs, traditions and ways of the Eastern Native American Indians were shared in song, dance, storytelling and demonstrations. The Native American Indians attending took the opportunity to catch up with old friends, renew friendships and see what was new in their circle of friends and associates. Laughter was shared throughout the Powwow grounds as spirits were lifted and  sadness washed away with days’ events.

Buffalo, Horse, Eagle Clay sculptures - Cherokee Pottery by Kicking Bird.

Buffalo, Horse, Eagle Clay sculptures – Cherokee Pottery by Kicking Bird.

Visitors strolled among the many vendors and considered their offerings of uniquely Native American Indian crafts, artifacts and jewelry, flutes, pipes, fancy and useful household stick brooms, clothing and food. Several vendors had books on history, culture and heritage of the First People, as some Indians tribes are called. Indian tacos and fry bread were big sellers, along with buffalo burgers, turkey legs and pulled barbecue pork.

Veterans and active duty military personnel are shown great respect among all Native American Indian tribes. This respect is an integral part of the Native American Indian culture. Its roots can be traced back to the tribes where the welfare of the village depended on the quantity and quality of the fighting men. Veterans are honored because they were willing to give their lives so people could live. All veterans are invited into The Circle for the honor song. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel are also included in this honor.

Dance Styles

All through the day, dancers performed demonstrations of various cultural dance styles in their native regalia.

Women Dance Styles – Women and girls wear long-skirted fringed buckskin dresses decorated with intricate beading designs of beads, shells, and bone beads, carrying their feather fans and a folded fringed shawl for the traditional Women’s Buckskin Dance.

The Women’s Cloth Dance is another traditional dance style. Regalia is made of cloth and styles vary greatly among the tribe. The feather fan and fringed shawl are also part of this regalia.

Dancer in Jingle Dress

Dancer in Jingle Dance Regalia

Young girls wear colorful cloth dresses with beautifully decorated colorful shawls worn over the shoulders for the Fancy Shawl Dance. The dance steps are intricate and spirited but always in harmony with the drum.

The Jingle Dance is another colorful dance style and is quite attention-gathering. This dance dress is originally from Canada. The regalia is colorful with beaded moccasins and leggings. The most unique feature of the regalia is the 365 jingles or tin cones that adorn each dress. Each cone represents a prayer and the total equals a prayer for each day of the year. This dance is a very spiritual dance for healing while the steps are quite fast-paced.

Men's Traditional- Powwow Head Man David McDaris

Men’s Traditional- Powwow Head Man David McDaris

Men’s Dance Styles – The dance styles for men are equally colorful and energetic. The first of these is the Men’s Traditional, a northern dance style. The regalia typically includes natural feathers, bustles and bone breast plates over leather. The dance steps are proud and deliberate, as they tell the story of the hunt or the warriors deeds in battle.

Another traditional dance is the Men’s Straight or Southern Straight Dance. This dance’s regalia frequently includes the porcupine headdress with a single feather, ribbon work on the apron, vests, leggings, otter skin trailers and sashes. It is also a story dance telling of the hunt or warrior’s battle.

The Men’s Grass is another old dance style from the northern tall grass prairie regions. Regalia is brightly colored fringed yarn or ribbons that mimic the prairie grass swaying in the wind.  These dancers created the dance circle by dancing the grass flat.

Men’s Fancy is a modern dance style. Its regalia is colorful top and bottom, bustles adorned with feathers and beadwork ion the back and often a smaller bustle on each arm. The dance pace is fast, steps are intricate and athletic. Whatever the pace, the dancer must stop with the last beat of the song.

Children's Dance is about the candy

Children’s Dance is about the candy

Each day of the Powwow, there is a special dance for the children, The Children’s Dance. The Circle is filled with candy of all kind, Children are then called into The Circle to line up around the perimeter. With the drum playing they circumnavigate the The Circle one full cycle and whenever the drum hits three beats and stops, the fun begin. At this point the children can run forth and gather as much candy as their feet and hands will allow.

Another fun dance of the Powwow is what is called The Broom Dance or as its more affectionately known – The Ugly Man Dance. This dance has the distinction of bearing a year’s impact upon the last man tagged during the dance. Couples fill the perimeter of The Circle with a female dancer shielding her dance partner from The Ugly Man, (the unfortunate fellow with the broom, because he couldn’t get a girlfriend). As the drum plays the Ugly Man tries to tag one of the shielded dancers with the broom. If he’s successful, the touched dancer becomes the new man in the center of the circle and he then tries to tag someone else before the song ends. The chaos and athleticism displayed is hilarious. There can be five or six tags before the drum suddenly stops without warning. The newly designated Ugly Man must now defend his new girlfriend from the other men of the dance in a freestyle pile-on. Should he prove successful, the broom is his for a year until the next Powwow. Then it all begins again.

Newest Umbrella Society Inductees

Newest Umbrella Society Inductees

Grandma Minnie is the Powwow Storyteller who entertains the children with tales and fables that reflect Native American Indian beliefs, principles and values. This year, she told the story about ‘hurtful words’ to her young gathering. Its a fable that teaches that words, like bubbles, once loose, can not be called back. They are gone forever. So, we must be careful of what words we let loose upon the world. The impact of those words can be far-reaching and unexpected.

The Umbrella Society gained two new members at this year’s Powwow. Made up of veterans, each year the society seeks to increase its ranks in tribute to veterans who have served in the military services and survived the ordeal. Each member brings a brightly colored and irreverently decorated umbrella and dances around the circle performing dips, dodges, and other silliness, throwing off all military bearing. It’s a fun dance for both dancers and observers.

By 6 p.m., the dances have been danced, the children have had their turn in the circle, stories have been told, the Umbrella Society has inducted the new members and the vendors have sold their wares for the day. The Silent Auction results are polled and the drum and singers are ready to call it a day. With the cool breeze blowing onto the Powwow grounds, the final formation of the day retires The Colors and another Powwow comes to its closing. But the fellowship, camaraderie and friendships forged will carry on into the years.

[Photos by Turner McCullough Jr./JazzWaves Imaging Solutions]



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NCC’s 16th Annual Intertribal Powwow brings understanding, insights

New associations and friendships are made, ever widening the circle of association and fellowship which runs deep within the Native American community and tradition.
by News Staff