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The Powwow Report . . .


You couldn't have asked for better weather. Better dance competition judging and less "dead air" in the circle you could have asked for.

The Lumbee Regional Development Association and the NC Indian Cultural Center sponsored this powwow. Admission to the public was free. Dancers were charged a $5.00 registration fee. We do not know if drums were charged a registration fee for the drum competition.

The Saturday afternoon and evening crowd and number of dancers were the largest we have seen at this event in seven years. Thirty-three craft vendors circled the rather small dance arena where we counted 88 dancers during the 7:00 p.m. Grand Entry. A dancer told us there were over 100 dancers present, but we will stick with the Grand Entry count.

Ten food booths operated mostly by local individuals and organizations filled the area near the main entrance to the powwow grounds. LRDA set up one food booth to feed participants and spectators free. This was a first at this event and we commend the LRDA for the gesture. The chicken and rice (chicken bog) was very good. The LRDA had a booth that provided information on the upcoming new Lumbee government election scheduled for Nov. 7. The Lumbee Elders Council had a booth serving coffee and offering raffle tickets for merchandise.

Ray Littleturtle emceed the event. Terry White and Shelley Strickland served as head dancers. Six drums provided songs: Edisto River Singers, Kah-Ta-Noh Jr., Running Elk, Southern Eagle, Southern Sons, and Stoney Creek.

Juan Salinas and his family of Aztec Dancers provided entertainment once Saturday and once Sunday.

Sunday afternoon the MC announced that attendance was approaching 10,000 spectators for the three-day weekend event, but we wondered how that was determined since no admission tickets were sold and we did not see parking attendants counting heads as cars went by. As stated above, the late Saturday afternoon and Saturday night audience was the most we have seen at this event, probably up to 3,000 people. The Sunday afternoon audience appeared to be a fourth of that.

HIGHLIGHTS: In addition to the three moneyed places in each category of dance competition, everyone else who danced but did not place received a small trophy for participating. We were told that was a first here. It certainly helped the little folks and youngsters who didn't place feel better about their participation.

The powwow committee presented a special plaque to a young Waccamaw-Siouan girl for her participation in the powwow. The girl has had physical health problems since birth and has undergone many hospital visits and some surgery. They recognized and honored her for her courage and strength. She danced in her contest category (traditional) and practically every intertribal and social dance.

Pure Fe, of the nationally known Native American female trio Ulali, was asked to lead her Tuscarora friends in a Smoke Dance. The presence and recognition of this Eastern Woodland style of dancing was a hit with the audience.

THE DOWN SIDE: There were too many breaks in the dancing action. The MC announced a break about every 30 to 40 minutes, or so it seemed. The breaks did give people a chance to visit with friends and look through vendor booths, but the dancers had come to dance not stand around, according to some we spoke with.

We could have done without the numerous political campaign posters and flyers posted around the powwow area. We concede that the election of a new Lumbee tribal government is an important event and issue for the Lumbee people, but we think governmental politics should have been absent at the event.

There was very poor judging in some of the dance categories. This was obvious to several spectators as well. It is interesting that certain dancers continue to win the top two places at this powwow year after year. We heard one spectator say, "Maybe the judges or whoever tallied the points didn't know how to add correctly."

Overall, we enjoyed this particular powwow more than we have in years past and think the powwow committee made some significant changes in this year's event. The free admission was a nice touch. It allowed more people to attend, especially those with large families. The LRDA free food booth was a generous gesture to the people.

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