GAITHERSBURG, MD., November 28, 2017 – This November, First Employees’ Association of the Indian Health Service and the Multicultural Affairs Committee of the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland held a Native American Indian Social Powwow.
The powwow featured a grand entry of American Indians, a drum circle, chanting, exciting dancing, games for the children, sales of American Indian jewelry and traditional food.
The hottest item at the powwow is the fry bread made with flour, salt, baking powder, and water. Fried and eaten as-is or with any sweet, like honey, or salty, topping.
The Master of Ceremonies was Clayton Old Elk, from the Whistling Water Clan of the Crow Tribe in Montana. The Arena Director, in charge of the dancing, was Lee Greywolf Lopez from the Red Paint Clan of the Chiricahua Apache Nation.
His experience includes alligator wrestling and rehabilitation of wildlife. Old Elk now works in veterinary medicine.
The Drum Circle
The Black Bear Singers, from Central Plains tribes such as the Kiowa and the Lakota, took their places around a large hide-covered drum, playing with sticks rather than their hands. The drums, embodying the plants and animals from which they are made, and the drumming prayers, are sacred.
The songs at the powow are widely known inter-tribal songs. The Black Bear Singers came together in 1999, then they were given the right to carry the drum from a former drum keeper of the Omaha tribe.
Being the keeper of the drum is a large honor and responsibility.
The dancers ‘Head Man” is Johnson Taylor from two tribes, the Southern Ute of Colorado and the Ponca of Oklahoma. Today he lives in Pennsylvania and is also in a drum group. The ‘Head Woman’ is Erica Issenoch, of the Rosebud Sioux. She studies Business Administration and Accounting and teaches Native American culture, dance, sewing, and beading.
There was time for both exhibition dancing and social dancing. During the dinner break, the children threw beanbags at standing corn cobs before playing a sort of standing version of musical chairs, using traditional songs.
Joining the PowWow
Numerous people came out to take part in the powwow; many seen enjoying the dancing, often joining in. Stephetra Anyaibe, whose ancestry is part Cherokee, was at her first powwow. Mo and holly Sharifi were there to remember Native America culture and what European settlers did to Native Americans.
Many other just wanted to enjoy themselves or help their children learn to appreciate American Indian cultures.
American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
The powwow was held in November because that is American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month, so designated in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. Proclamations are made each year by both the Federal Government as well as many state and local governments.
More than 500 American Indian tribes are recognized by the Federal Government. Their history dates back at least 15,000 years, and they number approximately 3 million of pure race and 2 million more that have a mixed heritage. They speak many native languages, as well as English and, in some cases, Spanish or French.