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Sharing cultural experiences

Second annual Wakichipi American Indian Powwow and Show begins Friday in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Second annual Wakichipi American Indian Powwow and Show begins Friday in Martinsburg, W.Va.

September 30, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Indians from about 35 American Indian tribes will share their cultural experience through food, storytelling and the arts during the second annual Wakichipi American Indian Powwow and Show this weekend at the Youth Fairgrounds in Martinsburg.

The powwow will include a buffalo education program featuring Tecumseh the 1,000-pound buffalo, Aztec and American Indian dancing, flute music, American Indian crafts and food, and children's activities from Friday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 3. Tribal delegates from Canada to Mexico - including Aztecs, Iroquois, Navajo, Sioux, Cherokee and Haliwa-Saponi - will perform centuries-old dances to compete for more than $6,000 in prize money.

Powwows serve to unite Indians, many communities of which were divided years ago by the federal government's adverse Indian policy. But the ultimate goal of the Wakichipi - which translates to "good dance" in the Saponi language - powwow is to educate people about American Indian culture, said powwow organizer Barry Richardson of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe in North Carolina.

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"The most misunderstood thing about us and our culture is that we are ancient, meaning not here anymore," Richardson said. "In fact, we number over 2 million people."

Tribal members from three countries will kick off the powwow on Saturday and Sunday with the Grand Entry, a procession of all the dancers into the dance arena. As head male and female dancers, Piscataway tribe member Schirra Gray and Rappahannock Indian Dorothy Gray will lead the parade of nations.

Tribal diversity also will be evidenced by the powwow's dances and crafts demonstrations. Items available for sale will include turquoise jewelry, moccasins, beadwork, rugs, books, paintings and dreamcatchers, Richardson said. Such American Indian foods as buffalo stew, fried bread, Indian corn soup and buffalo burgers will give powwow participants a taste of the culture.

Powwow visitors also are invited to explore their own American Indian roots by talking with participating dancers, singers, drummers, storytellers and craftspeople, Richardson said.

Tuscarora-Lumbee Indian Keith Colston of Baltimore will serve as the powwow's master of ceremonies.

The event will be held rain or shine.

For more information, call the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-498-2386 or 1-304-264-8845.

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