In spite of rain, the show must go on

Published 11:59 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

News Correspondent

AHOSKIE – The 28th Meherrin Pow Wow’s three-day event kicked off Friday, Sept. 30 at the Meherrin tribal grounds located on Highway 11 between Murfreesboro and Ahoskie.

1013powwow4-webAfter the opening ceremony, 70 volunteers made ready for the 450 students from local as well as schools from Raleigh and Elizabeth City. The exhibits and demonstrations included beadwork, basket weaving, weaponry and the making of the blowgun, and bow and arrow. The students were introduced to the longhouse, the Eastern Woodlands Indians’ primary residence. The museum’s doors were open to the children.

The students visited the many vendor booths. Vendors answered questions and offered crafts for purchase. The five dollar entry fee included a meal, according to Patrick Suarez, a Meherrin tribe member, from Winston Salem.

Around 2 p.m. on opening day, they skies opened and the rain fell for three hours. Even though the tribal grounds were saturated with this and prior downpours, spirits weren’t dampened. The solution included over 200 bales of hay, which was spread over the arena.

Friday’s festivities continued with Iroquois songs and social dances followed by the closing ceremony.

1013powwow3-webSaturday, Oct. 1, the Pow Wow was welcomed in with the opening ceremony which included the Veteran dance which honored veterans and military people present and elsewhere. Besides this dance, other social dances included the potato, 2-step, rabbit, round, friendship, alligator, and the stomp dance. When asked about this last dance, Linwood Hall, a Meherrin who resides in Texas, stated it was a practical dance preformed to beat down tall grass.

This Pow Wow, themed “Healing the Nation”, included an honor dance. Meherrin Chief Wayne Brown was involved in an automobile accident resulting in recuperation and pneumonia and continuing hospital stay. This dance was done to honor Chief Brown. The center dancers were jingle dress clad dancers. Each dress is decorated with 365 tightly wound snuff tins. This jingle dance is a healing dance. The dancers’ movements and the sun bring the jingles to life with sound and sight. Two hundred people, each with prayer sage bundles, entered the arena. The sage bundles were lit by campfire tantalizing the smell and taste senses. The Healing Dance was so rarely performed no one present had ever witnessed this before. The feeling of healing was present as this event proceeded. The love, healing, and honor for Chief Brown and the nation were sensational, said Suarez.

Stoney Point Drummers and Full Circle Drummers provided the drumming and song for the dance competition and social dances. Over 70 dancers competed. Men’s categories included grass, traditional, smoke and fancy dances. Women’s categories included traditional, shawl, fancy and jingle dances.

Sunday, Oct. 2, greeted the Pow Wow with a blue sky and fluffy clouds fleeing across the heavens propelled by a most pleasant breeze. The last day is more relaxed. The men and women dancers have been narrowed down to the final dancers to decide finalists in each category.

The Pow Wow is attended by far away as well as local tribes. Local tribes include Haliwa-Saponi, Tuscarora, Nottaway, and Nansemond. Tribes attend others’ pow wows throughout the year and friendships develop. The competition is intense, but good sportsmanship and pride of the placed winners is shared by all. Everyone including the public is treated like family.

1013powwow2-webIn one social dance, the lady picks a partner. One lady picked an older gentleman as her partner. They talked and laughed as they danced. Children are held, dance in social and competition dances, drum with the drummers and included in the day’s activities.

Intergenerational contact is observed throughout the day. This is important in carrying on the unity, traditions and culture of the native people.

The sunlight plays on the dancers’ regalia resulting in colorful and sparkling effects. The dancers’ movements result in ever changing imagery.

Vendors offered all kinds of Indian crafts to the public. The dream catcher’s origin and function was answered when asked

A South Dakota vendor traveling with a wolf and parrot permitted children to feed and pet the wolf. The parrot, abused by others, was rescued. It perched very close to her owner and kept a close eye on everyone.

The Meherrin Pow Wow is like a southern-style family reunion. It includes its extended family. Folks look forward to seeing and talking with old friends, making and nourishing new friendships. This includes the public, vendors and other native people who traveled anywhere from miles to thousands of miles to be a part of this event.

Over 2,300 people attended the 28th Meherrin Pow Wow. This southern-style, family oriented will be remembered and cherished for its energies and uniqueness with everyone looking forward to next year’s event, said Linwood Hall.