Whats Happening Entertainment and Events in Virginia and North Carolina
Nansemond Indian Pow Wow - Suffolk Virginia
Nansemond Indian Pow Wow
by William Metcalfe
Another What’s Happening weekend, another chance of rain so I didn’t get my hopes up as I went to bed Saturday night, so when I woke up to clear skies Sunday morning I was pleasantly surprised. The event I’d been tapped to attend was a Pow wow hosted by the Nansemond Indian Tribe located just off the Nansemond River just outside of Suffolk Virginia.
Entrance to the event was free although they did ask for donation. There were so many people that I sometimes found myself having to jockey for position to get a clear view . There was even a young fan up in a tree to get a better view. There was VIP seating next to the host tent as well as other tents around the circle to give people a chance to hide from the sun. The food served would have been the type of food you would have found in the area 400 years ago but cooked using modern conveniences, souvenir tents and at least one water tent. They even had a young man on a lawn mower hauling a trailer with a cooler full of water
I arrived just in time to see the opening parade, which is pretty much what you would expect; flag bearers leading all the participants in their individual groups each in their regalia. Once the initial parade was over all veteran as well as active duty military, (Native as well as nonnative) were asked to come up and shake the tribal leader’s hands as a way of showing thanks for protecting the land.
The dancing started with an inter tribal dance; this is the time when all the dancers get out at one time and dance. I know a picture is worth a thousand words but there is no way a picture can do justice to the rhythm expressiveness and emotion these dancers have. Audience participation was encouraged during the round dance where the head dancers led the participants in a giant circle… and once enough people joined in they started breaking off into smaller circles. Then they started alternating directions, this caused people to bump into to each other, I could tell they were all laughing and having a good time, this seemed to be a good way of breaking the ice and get everybody in the spirit of the Pow wow.
There were fancy dances, traditional dances couples dances. The MC would describe the parts of the regalia as well as give a bit of history about why they do each dance. Some of these dances included children to make sure the traditions stayed alive with the next generation
Pow wows are very informative as well as entertaining and at times emotional. I could not help but imagine what something like this would have looked like 400 years when it was more of a reverent coming together of tribes and not just a memory in their history!