First Nations powwow next weekend

The First Nations Intertribal Powwow is more than just a festive ceremony. It’s a celebration of Native American culture.

“It’s a chance to educate the public about Native American lifestyle,” said Beth Hayes, one of the event organizers.

The seventh annual powwow returns to Whitehall next Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5, at the Skenesborough Canal Side Park adjacent the Canal Corp. Visitors Center on Skenesborough Drive.

Sponsored by the Arts and Recreation Commission of Whitehall, the event provides people an opportunity to experience the many facets of Native American culture. There will be dancing, drums, music, storytelling, crafts and vendors hawking authentic Native American wares.

A number of Native American cultures are represented during the weekend, including many Northeastern woodland groups, such as the Abenaki and Oneida.

“Every year the event gets bigger and better. We try to add new stuff every year,” said Hayes. “It’s nonstop entertainment.’

That entertainment is highlighted by the drum groups who perform throughout the weekend.

Although past events have featured several drum groups, the highlighted performers this year will be the Walking Bear Singers and Northern Coupe.

The Walking Bear Singers represent the southern drum style while the Northern Coupe’s sound is more indicative, as the name suggests, of the northern style.

The southern style tends to be characterized by a slower rhythm while the northern group plays a faster, more upbeat style.

 

Making an entrance

The two drum groups lead the grand entrance at noon on both Saturday and Sunday.

The entrance is typically followed by Native American dancing, one of the most popular attractions of the weekend and Hayes said several different styles are represented.

The Oneida Nations Dance Troupe is one group participating in this year’s powwow. The group performs a variety of social dances, including the stomp dance, the old moccasins dance and the women’s shuffle.

The dances usually involve chanting and dancers take their cues from drums. Many of the dancers will be dressed in authentic Native American garb.

Storytelling is also a part of the weekend.

Joseph Bruchah, an award-winning author and professional story teller who has visited Whitehall on several occasions in the past, will relay stories from his Abenaki heritage.

The Abenaki Circle of Courage Youth Group, the Tundra Spirits-Husky Rescue, musician Bob Marcotte and chainsaw carver Johnny Thorpe add to the weekend’s entertainment.

There will also be a number of vendors, food and raffles.

The park is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and the grand entrance will be at noon each day. The festivities will end at 6 p.m.

Admission to the event is free. Photography is not permitted during the grand entrance, prayer song or veteran’s song, Hayes said.

For more information, call 260-6059, or email whitehallpowwow@yahoo.com.

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