Sacred gathering

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Native American culture in spotlight at three-day powwow

By Alice Du Pont



The 12th annual Chattahoochee Pow Wow took place Oct. 12-14 at the Chattahoochee River Park. Hundreds of Native Americans and visitors attended the powwow, which featured traditional dancers, food, demonstrations, vendors and a western town.


Terrell Anquoe, a Kiowa Comanche from Daytona Beach, by way of Landro, S.D., and East Bend, N.C., began dressing early for the 7 p.m. opening ceremony. After painting his face, he dressed in his elaborate regalia called “Northern traditional,” which has an abundance of feathers on the headdress and body.

He has hosted powwows in Daytona Beach but said he enjoys the Chattahoochee event and others he attends throughout the state.


“This is like a church service; (it) is very spiritual for us. The circle is our altar. You enter and exit one way; the stones that surround the circle are sacred, so you never step on them. All of what we do is good stuff. We say prayers, sing songs, some tell stories of our ancestors. There is no alcohol or tobacco, just as you would not have alcohol or tobacco in your church,” he said.


Miss Indian, Nichole Schneider of Jacksonville, was also getting ready for the opening ceremony. Of the Creek Cherokee Indians, Schneider said the rules are very strict when wearing regalia.


Walking through the campsite with Benjamin Dancing Rabbit, she was careful not to brush against him because it is frowned on by the elders.


“You have to stay so many inches apart; even now we are too close,” she said standing about 6 inches from her friend.


This was Jesse Stambaugh’s 15th powwow, said the head man dancer.


This is an intertribal powwow, where different dances are performed. During the opening ceremony, the dancers are preceded into the circle by young boys whose dance depicts spirits that will lay the grass down for the other dancers, When the ceremony is over, the “out grass dancers” go back into the circle and repeat the dance so the grass will come back up again.


But no one enters the circle until they are saged. A designated man sets a small pot of dried sage on fire until it begins to smolder. He then takes the pot and surrounds the body, head to toe, in smoke from the pot.

Saging is very important in the culture and is thought to be energy-clearing, removing the daily stresses of life and bringing a blessing to the person.


Dennis Anthony, a Coastal Plains Cherokee of Dothan, Ala., stopped giving demonstrations on making arrowheads and tanning hides long enough to watch the opening ceremony. Autumn Sprit paused from making Indian tacos and fry bread so that she could participate in the ceremony.


“This is so important to us, and so beautiful, nobody moves,” she said.