Powwow this weekend

D ancers dressed in the vibrant colors of Native American garb will move in perfect harmony to the steady pulse of drum beats this weekend as the First Nations Intertribal Powwow returns to Whitehall.

The seventh annual event will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 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 powwow is a traditional Native American celebration that features many of the facets of native culture.

There will be drumming, singing, storytelling, music, and vendors selling authentic Native American wares.

A number of indigenous 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 Beth Hayes, who has been attending the event since its inception. “It’s nonstop entertainment.”

One of the most popular elements of the event, however, is dancing.

Hayes said a number of different dance groups will perform throughout the weekend.

“There are several different styles that are represented,” Hayes said.

One group that will participate in this year’s powwow is the Oneida Dance Troupe, which was formed in 2002, and performs a number of social dances, including the stomp dance, the old moccasins dance and the eagle dance.

Each dance is dependent on different chants, drum beats, and specific foot movements, and participants dress in authentic Native American regalia.

The Abenaki Circle of Courage Youth Group of Swanton, Vt., will also demonstrate a number of dance styles.

Although the powwow begins at 10 a.m., the grand entrance, led by this year’s host drums, will be held at noon on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Walking Bear Singer will represent the southern host drum while the Northern Coupe will represent the northern sound.

Joseph Bruchac, an award-winning author and professional storyteller who has visited Whitehall on several occasions in the past, will relay stories from his Abenaki heritage, and Bob Marcotte, who plays the guitar, banjo and flute will perform.

Rick Hunt will once again serve as the fire keeper, tending to the flames that represent the life of the powwow. So long as the flames continue to burn, the powwow continues, when the flames are extinguished, so is the event.

Other attractions include the Tundra Spirits-Husky Rescue, chainsaw carver Johnny Thorpe and a variety of vendors.

Food and refreshments will be available and there will be a number of raffles.

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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