The intertribal powwow is an authentic representation of Native American life for one simple reason: It’s not a demonstration or an act. It’s the real thing.
“This is how we live,” Natalie “Wisteria” said. “These are our traditions.”
That may well explain why Wisteria is wearing the skin from an otter on her head. “It’s to honor the people of the waters,” she said.
Wisteria has been organizing the Intertribal Powwow held Mother’s Day weekend in Noxen for the past eight years. She took over the helm from her uncle four years ago.
The ninth annual Mother’s Day Intertribal Powwow will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Noxen Fire Co. grounds on Stull Road.
“We’re showing our lives,” she said. “Some of our participants have come here straight from the reservation.”
Over the years, Wisteria has seen the powwow grow from 10 vendors to 35 and from 60 dancers to 260. “Once the dancers heard we had a good powwow and that we feed them well, they joined,” she said.
Emcee Richard Gray Owl Greene announces the dances and events and explains the rituals and costumes.
The event will include Native American dancing, drumming, storytelling, children’s dances and refreshments. The vendors will sell crafts, such as beadwork, leatherwork, books, CDs, jewelry, T-shirts, blankets and even fur.
Circle hours are noon-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Parking and admission are free, and the event is handicapped accessible. Camping is allowed, but electricity is limited and costs $7 per day. Spaces are assigned on a first-come basis. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed and cleaned up after at all times. Alcohol, drugs, guns and politics of any kind are not allowed.
The group will honor all mothers — even Mother Earth — with special dances. “We will ask all mothers to join us and walk around in a circle and ask everyone to tell their mother that they love them,” Wisteria said.
But though this is billed as a Mother’s Day weekend, the Native Americans celebrate Mother’s Day all year long. “We try to honor Mother’s Day every day and not just when the calendar tells us,” Wisteria said. “They are the givers of life, and our earth is our mother so we honor her, too.”
A special candy dance is planned for the children with the highlight being, of course, the opportunity to grab some tasty treats off the ground and indulge.
The circle opens at 10 a.m. with storytelling both days by Grace Dove. Grand entry of all dignitaries and dancers in full regalia will start at noon.
The group dances and waves to thank Grandfather for the day during the first dance. The second dance is a flag dance, which incorporates native American tribal flags as well as that of the U.S. and military. “The flag song is our version of the national anthem,” Wisteria said.
The third dance honors the military, which has become a tribal tradition. “We always honor our veterans and ask them to come and join in and shake hands,” she said.
The appeal of the powwow for many repeat attendees is the simple life Native Americans live. “We are honest, forthright and respectful,” she said. “Some people may be struggling to bring their life into balance, and they attend this and see that. People feel the love.”