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Dancers highlight pow-wow

October 14, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

A circle of tamped-down grass marked the spot where American Indians performed their ancient and sacred dances at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park on Saturday.

"It goes back to being a park later. For now this is a very special place," said Sarah Brandly of St. Louis.

A member of the Kootenay tribe, Brandly said she enjoys attending pow-wows all over the country. Often, it's a chance to see people she hasn't seen in years.

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It was the 10th annual Pow-Wow and Show in Hagerstown, said organizer Barry Richardson, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of North Carolina.

Previous pow-wows were held at Hagerstown Community College, but Richardson said he moved this year's event to Fairgrounds Park for a change of scenery.

On Saturday, dancers and spectators huddled under a large white tent to get out of the chilly, damp air.

Attendance, estimated at about 700, was down slightly due to the weather and also fear generated by the Beltway area sniper attacks, Richardson said.

Although Hagerstown is about 50 miles away from the nearest strike, Richardson said some people were leery.

"They know that he's got a car and he can drive," he said.

For the spectators who attended, the dancers were clearly the highlight of the pow-wow.

"I like to watch the girls do the traditional dance with the bells," said Crista Talbert, 31, of Severna Park, Md., who brought her children, Josh, 8, and Lexi, 11.

Participating dancers did not paint their faces - to avoid perpetuating stereotypes, said master of ceremonies Keith Colston.

On display away from the dancing ring was a 1,650-pound male Tecumseh, or buffalo.

Buffalo could also be consumed at the pow-wow in the form of stew and burgers.

For non-Indians, the pow-wow was a chance to learn something about the culture of the dozens of tribes represented.

For example, Brandly, who is 49, said she's looking forward to her next birthday because in her culture there are perks to becoming an elder.

"By that time the youngsters will be bringing me food and drinks," she said.

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