Powwow brings great spirit

October 11, 1997


Staff Writer

The basketball hoops and running track at Hagerstown Junior College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center have been replaced this weekend by a costumed dancers, the rich aroma of burning sage leaves and other symbols of America's native culture.

The Hagerstown Powwow and Festival features a variety of American Indian crafts, jewelry, books, clothing, artwork and other wares. There are also food vendors and singers.

"I know something I like about it - the music," said 6-year-old John Madden of Hagerstown Saturday afternoon, holding an ornamental spear his mother had just bought for him.


Susan Madden said they have attended the local powwow for three years, and her son already has a great interest is history and American Indian culture.

"I like to expose him to all of the different festivals going on," said Madden, 36.

Irvin Fossett of Frederick, Md., said he and his friends come to the powwow every year, in part to honor their native American past.

"We just come up here to pay tribute to our great spirit," said Fossett, 34.

More than 30 tribal representatives are participated in the event, including Sioux, Chickahominy, Delaware, Cherokee and Navajo.

But many of the people attending the powwow have no Native American ancestors - something master of ceremonies Keith Colston is a growing phenomenon as more people want to explore all aspects of the nation's history and culture.

"This gives the opportunity for people to come together," said Colston, 26, a Baltimore resident representing both the Tuscarora and Lumbee tribes.

He said 10 years ago it would have been difficult to find a powwow being held on any given weekend on the East Coast, but now there are several held each weekend, a likely sign that awareness of the American Indian culture is growing.

"It has grown. The popularity is growing and the amount of participation is growing," Colston said.

The powwow also serves a purpose of keeping the younger American Indians "inside the circle," and away from potential trouble, he said.

"When they come here to a powwow, we know where they are and what they are doing," Colston said.

But there is a fun aspect, too, he said. Throughout the event dancers wearing ornate native costumes are performing and competing for more than $10,000 in prize money.

The powwow continues today at HJC from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $4 for children ages 3 to 12; $7 for ages 13 to 61; and $4 for ages 62 and older.

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