A Celebration of a Nation:
2011 Lumbee “Dance of the Spring Moon” Powwow
By Jamie K. Oxendine, Lumbee/Creek
Director, Black Swamp InterTribal Foundation
As one walks through the parking lot they are overcome by a symphony of license plates from North America. No less than 27 U. S. States, 3 Canadian Provinces, and even 1 Mexican State could be seen among the cars, trucks, suvs, and RVs as the author strode across the grounds some two hours before Grand Entry on Saturday. And this was from just a simple stroll across the parking lots on one day. The following day one would have to add plates from 3 other states that where not seen before. It could be estimated that if one actually policed the bays over the 3 days there would be representation from at least 35 of the U.S. States.
According to Master of Ceremony speakers Sandon Jacobs of NC, Vince Beyl of MN, and Arena Director Reggie Brewer of NC, some 380 dancers (representing 120 Tribes) and 12 Drum Groups participated over the 3 day powwow. Both MC’s did a fine job of sharing the microphone so that no one voice would dominate and more importantly so neither one would lose vocals during the heavy demand of announcing some 24-30 hours in 3 days. Each MC kept things motivated as well as light with their own unique style: Sandon executed southern warmth and Carolina accentuation while Vince added a mid-west inflection and Reservation intonation of Native American Humor. Audience, Dancers, Drums and Vendors enjoyed the change up of having two MCs to keep things always fresh as well as poignant, affective and inspiring.
“AWESOME!” That was the pro-found word of exuberance from vendor Lola Rios of Heaven’s Prints from Cherokee, NC. She was more than happy to express that she would not miss the Lumbee Spring Powwow for anything including invitations to other large events that take place over the same weekend. Lola even said that she speaks very highly of the Lumbee Spring Powwow and convinced several Cherokee to come to Lumbee Land and experience as she put it “The wonderful and friendly people and a committee full of smiles from everyone that cares about the vendors.” Lola said that many committees just do not seem to care about the vendors after set up but the Lumbee are always diligent in making her feel good and showing that the vendors do exist and are important.
[ad#rectangle]Dean Stanton and others of the Narragansett and Wampanoag Nations came all the way from the Great States of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. He highly enjoyed the inclusion of the Eastern Woodland Dance specials and was impressed that the Lumbee are very punctual.
Speaking of time, it was always on. Sandon, Vince, Reggie and the committee did a most impressive job of keeping things running to the clock. As Grand Entry approached on both days they were keeping in time in having the Eagle Staffs and the Lumbee Warriors Color Guard step off each day with little if no delay. As the dancers progressed into the circle the entire area was filled with the grandeur of hundreds of dancers as MC Vince spoke “The loveliest of people in all the Nation!” With such an enormous number of dancers the Grand Entry alone took songs from no less than five Drum Groups as the circle was filled with every dance style and color of the Native American Powwow Circuit: Mens Northern Traditional, Mens Southern Straight, Mens Eastern Woodland, Mens Grass, Mens Chicken, Mens Fancy, Womens Traditional Hide, Womens Traditional Cloth, Womens Eastern Woodland, Womens Fancy, and Womens Jingle with partakers of every age from the youngest of tiny tots to the most respected of Senior Seniors.
Luke Rogers of Lumberton, NC was also happy to see several dancers in Eastern Woodland Regalia. He said the powwow was “Alright in promoting the Eastern Woodlands.” He noted that the best thing about this was “Seeing the various nations and the fellowship of the dancers from the other nations.” This was quite evident as the Lumbee promoted both Eastern War Dance specials and Smoke Dance specials of the Nations from the North East Woodlands.
Ronald Huntingbear of Bear Tracks from Deer Lodge, MT indicates that this is his 5th year to Lumbee Land and he admits that it is the “…friendliest of places with happy people…” that greets him as he recalls “… with a share of hugs.”
This was the 7th year for the Lumbee “Dance of the Spring Moon” Powwow. The annual event takes place at the Southeastern Farmers Market in Lumberton, NC the 1st full weekend of May and is one of the largest powwows in the South East. As seen above it draws people from all over the U.S. and Canada to perform in some fierce competition and participate in what USA TODAY calls one of Americas “10 Great Places to be Wowed by American Indian Culture” (USA TODAY, April 15, 2011).
On the local level, Terry & Sandra Locklear of Lumbee Arts & Crafts from Lumberton, NC were excited to see the many fine dancers from all over the country. Being Lumbee and being in their own backyard they saw the event as more of a family gathering and not so much a powwow. Having traveled to powwows all over the Eastern Seaboard, Sandra mentioned that for them it was less of a powwow and more of a “coming home” for family and friends before the Lumbee Homecoming in July.
“A Coming Home” was the same expression in describing the Lumbee Spring Powwow from the Lumbee Warrior Color Guard Chaplain Leary Chavis. He noted “It is a wonderful meeting of different tribes and a sharing of culture among the southern charm and comradely Lumbee People.”
Other transplanted Carolinians spoke of the powwow as “Very entertaining.” These words came from Chris & Cindy Bowman (Osage) of Raleigh, NC originally from Oklahoma. This was their first year and they viewed the powwows as “… a joy of drums and dancers and people of the East and South East….”
One must ask with the exorbitant price of gas did any come just for the Lumbee Powwow that are not on the Powwow Circuit. The answer is a most definite yes as we consider Adam & Stephanie Nordwall of Stillwater, OK. Adam (Shoshone/Ojibway/Navajo) and Stephanie (Maidu/Pitt River) had recently moved to Oklahoma from California. They had literally just finished finals at Northern Oklahoma College and packed the kids to drive all the way to NC just for the powwow. Even a 3-4 hour detour due to Mississippi River flooding did not discourage them in coming to Lumbee Land. This was their first time ever to NC and the Lumbee Powwow and they both pronounced the event and North Carolina as a “Nice Celebration and a beautiful state.”
A long drive from Pine Ridge Reservation, SD was made by Ryan Wilson (Lakota) and family that said “This is a really good powwow.”
Another dancer that showed no worries of the rising gas prices was Wayne Silas, Jr. (Menominee/Oneida) of Oneida, WI. He and his family are on the powwow circuit and made the trip to Lumbee Land all the way from Albuquerque, NM as they had been at the massive powwow “Gathering of Nations.” Wayne conveyed that they made the long drive form NM to NC for two main reasons: to attend the Lumbee Spring Powwow and visit Myrtle Beach and his words for the Lumbee Powwow were “Fun, Fun, Fun!”
The farthest East visitors were C. Hooke (Mikmaq)) all the way from the Atlantic Time Zone of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Canada. She said that in all her 5 years attending she feels more welcome that at many other powwows across North America. Hooke was awestricken that she is always made to feel like family because everyone refers to her with warm terms of endearment and her words for the event were “Best in the South.”
Hundreds of dancers and hundreds of people all agree that a nice and most glorious event for Indian Country is the Lumbee “Dance of the Spring Moon” Powwow. From Nova Scotia, Canada to Sacramento, CA and from Seattle, WA to Ochopee, FL it is a magnet for the Native American Community and the Powwow Circuit.
It would appear that a great summation in a nut shell so to speak is the reflective statement of Ronald Huntingbear from MT: “The Lumbee have a warmth you don’t find in a lot of places…they truly do.”