25th Nansemond powwow set

Published 10:36 pm Friday, August 9, 2013

Dancers at last year's Nansemond Indian Tribe Pow Wow display traditional dances and regalia. This year's event will be held Aug. 17-18.

Dancers at last year’s Nansemond Indian Tribe Pow Wow display traditional dances and regalia. This year’s event will be held Aug. 17-18.

Dancing, drums, regalia and food all will descend upon Lone Star Lakes next weekend for the Nansemond Indian Tribe’s annual powwow.

But this year’s event is special for two reasons. Not only is it the 25th anniversary of the powwow, but also the tribe will celebrate a deed-signing ceremony with city leaders to complete the transfer of land from the city to the tribe.

“This is one for the books,” said tribe member Jesse Bass, son of Chief Barry Bass. “It’s obviously historical. As far as Virginia’s concerned, it’s the first of its kind ever, and hopefully not the last.”


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City Council voted in November 2010 to transfer the land, where the tribe’s ancestors lived before European settlers arrived.

However, the transfer has yet to actually occur because of numerous delays. The tribe waited more than two years to sign a development agreement because of legal concerns but signed it in January this year.

The deed-signing ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. Normal powwow festivities will begin around noon.

The annual event is part family reunion, part homecoming and part cultural celebration. The public is welcome, and admission is free, though donations are accepted at the door.

“The purpose in the powwow, for me, is first and foremost to educate the public, with the lack of education on native culture in public schools,” Jesse Bass said. “But for some of us, it’s more like a homecoming. We see people that we only see once a year. I get to see all my family, not necessarily just my blood family, but people we powwow with.”

The event features Nansemond and other tribe members showcasing ceremonial dances and traditional regalia, craft and cultural displays and food concessions.

This year’s drum group, which will provide the music for the dances, will be Stony Creek, which is based in North Carolina.

“We have the best drum group on the East Coast,” Bass said.

Bass said after the tribe actually owns the land, leaders hope to be able to do bigger and better things with future powwows.

“It will be ours to do as we please,” he said. “I hope to be able to do a lot more, like a school day on a Friday. We want to make it bigger and better to draw more people from all over the place.”

Chief Barry Bass encouraged people to come out and learn.

“It’s part of celebrating our heritage and honoring our ancestors,” he said. “Come out and see the culture and learn the culture.”

The powwow location is at the end of Pembroke Lane, which runs off Godwin Boulevard directly across from Oakland Elementary School. The event is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Grand entry of the dancers is at noon on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.