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The Powwow Report . . .

10th N.C. SCHOOL OF SCIENCE & MATHEMATICS POWWOW – DURHAM, NC - FEB. 17, 2001

Saturday, Feb. 17 marked a special day and event in North Carolina. It was the beginning of 2001 powwow season in the Tar Heel State with the N.C. School of Science & Math Powwow in Durham.

Akwe:kon, the NCSSM Native American Club, sponsored this non-contest event. Joe Liles, art instructor and advisor to the club, says a powwow is “part family reunion, part cultural celebration, part social gathering, and part educational opportunity.” Liles and Akwe:kon certainly made this powwow all that and even more this year.

Keith Colston and Derek Lowery were co-masters of ceremonies. Both did a more than adequate job of keeping the powwow moving and the participants and spectators informed and entertained. There was practically no dead air on the P.A. system or in the dance circle.

Brandon Locklear and Stephanie Hora were head dancers. Both of these Coharie youngsters carried out their duties well and contributed a sense youthfulness and fun-loving enjoyment to the event.

Archie Lynch of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe served as arena director.

Kah-Ta-Noh Junior was host drum. The group did their usual good job of providing songs for the dancers. But, Kah-Ta-Noh, Jr. could do no less considering the six other drums in their company. This was a drum powerhouse powwow. Performances by all seven drums were strong and there was a good mix of both Northern and Southern drums.

Southern Sons, Stoney Creek, Awohali, Southern Eagle, Edisto River Singers, and Secret Hill kept the songs coming and dancers dancing during both the afternoon and evening sessions of the event.

We counted 118 dancers at the 1:00 p.m. Grand Entry but we know additional dancers arrived later in the afternoon. Unofficially, we would say 125 – 130 dancers were present at the event.

Fifteen craft vending booths were set up in the hallways leading into the Charles R. Eilber Physical Education Center (gymnasium). Two food booths, one belonging to Akwe:kon and the other being an outside vendor, provided food and drinks for the public. NCSSM and Akwe:kon provided supper for all dancers and drums during the 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. supper break.

HIGHLIGHTS:

The foremost highlight of this event is powwows have begun again in North Carolina and spring is just around the corner. Dancers, drums, and their families shook off the winter doldrums and cabin fever and were happy to see their friends and relatives at a powwow where good times and celebration seem to be the key operative words.

Akwe:kon and NCSSM had invited outstanding Indian high school students from across North Carolina to tour the school and consider what NCSSM might offer them in their science and mathematics studies. These students were recognized for their achievements and presented in an honoring dance to the audience.

Miss Indian World 2000-2001, Lillian “Chepa” Sparks, attended the powwow with her mother, Georgeline, and younger sister, Elyse. Miss Sparks, who shares both Oglala and Sicangu Lakota ancestry, spent some non-dancing time visiting with relatives now living in North Carolina.

Head dancers Locklear and Hora conducted a give-away to express their gratitude at being honored as head dancers for the event.

Four non-stop back-to-back intertribals proved dancers had come here to dance and have a good time.

The most people we’ve ever seen involved in a friendship dance at an N.C. powwow.

The debut appearance of Secret Hill, an all new Haliwa-Saponi southern-style drum from Hollister, N.C.

Akwe:kon presented each registered dancer and drum member with a souvenir T-shirt featuring original artwork by Joe Liles. This is an annual tradition at this event.

THE DOWN SIDE:

The only down side we could find with this event is Liles and Akwe:kon are probably going to need to find another facility or location if this powwow grows any larger.

CONCLUSION:

This powwow, for various reasons, is simply the most enjoyable powwow currently being produced in North Carolina. Ask anyone who attends it. There is no competition to be concerned about. Everyone is treated equally and fairly and with respect. And, as far as we can tell, this powwow is virtually politics free. Other powwows and Native American cultural events in N.C. would do well to pay attention to what Liles and Akwe:kon have accomplished over the last ten years.


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