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Dancers wow 'em at American Indian Powwow

October 14, 2000

Dancers wow 'em at American Indian Powwow



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


More than 100 spectators stared, many open-mouthed, Saturday afternoon as three Aztec Dancers put their feet and hands into a flame at the eighth annual American Indian Powwow and Show at Hagerstown Community College.

The dancers from Mexico City danced around a lit flame and then, one by one, put first their feet and then their hands into the flame. The final dancer snuffed out the flame with one bare foot.

Pam and Fred Giles of Hagerstown, who have been coming to the event for the last five years, said the Atzec Dancers are their favorite part of an event that showcases Native American culture.

Fred Giles said another reason he likes coming is that he believes he is part Indian. That Indian blood - combined with memories of taking part in Indian drumming as a Boy Scout - adds to his interest in the annual event.

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Craft booths surrounding the basketball court where the dancers performed offered jewelry, clothes, books and other items for sale.

About 3,000 to 4,000 people were expected to attend the three-day event at the college, said Archie Lynch, the program director. About 800 public school students attended the event Friday.

The goal of the 8-year-old event is to show people different aspects of Indian culture as well as educate them or, in some cases, re-educate them about the facts of various cultures and their histories, Lynch said.

About 45 different tribes from across the continent are represented at the event, he said.

The event is not just for non-Native Americans, Lynch said. It is also a chance for members of the tribes to see other tribes.

While some see Indian culture as an artifact of the past, in reality it is an evolving, ever-changing culture, he said. As with the "dominant culture," there are fashion trends among the tribes, for example.

Some of the Indian dancers are doctors, lawyers "and from all walks of life."

"On weekends we educate," said Lynch, himself an American Indian who has been involved with events of this type for more than 30 years.

John and Debbie Johnston of Baltimore attend powwows around the region and decided to check out the Hagerstown event Saturday. They liked what they saw.

John Johnston said his favorite part of the powwows is the drumming.

Doris Kohl, a Cherokee Indian who lives in Williamsport, said she comes to the event every year. She said while this year's event was good, she enjoyed last year's more because there were more tribes she liked.

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