Powwow returns next weekend

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dancers demonstrate traditional American Indian dances at the 2013 Nansemond Indian powwow. This year’s installment happens next weekend.

Dancers demonstrate traditional American Indian dances at the 2013 Nansemond Indian powwow. This year’s installment happens next weekend.

Visitors to this year’s Nansemond Indian Tribe powwow will find some new developments at the tribe’s 26th annual event next weekend, Assistant Chief Earl Bass said on Thursday.

Don’t worry — the mainstays of the powwow, including traditional dancing and drumming, native crafts and demonstrations still will be on display.

But among the new developments is that the tribe will be cooking and serving its own food to raise money for its Mattanock Town project, rather than having food trucks that have provided refreshments in the past.

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“We’re stepping out there doing our own food this year,” Bass said. “We’re trying to raise more revenue for the project we’re doing out there, for Mattanock Town.”

The project, which has been in talks for more than a decade, finally is in the process of becoming a reality after the city of Suffolk signed over about 70 acres of land — formerly part of Lone Star Lakes Park — to the tribe. The deed transfer happened a year ago, with a ceremony commemorating it at last year’s powwow.

Visitors this year also will be able to see the beginning stages of some projects at Mattanock Town, named for one of the tribe’s ancestral villages that was on or near the site.

The tribe is working on a dugout canoe to demonstrate, longhouse construction is in its infancy and a garden “like our ancestors would have done it” — with corn stalks surrounded by beans that can climb on the stalks — has been planted, Bass said.

“We’re kind of experimenting out there with what’s going to work,” Bass said, noting the tribe is overcoming some hurdles such as the hardness of the soil and wood it cut for the longhouse that turned out not to be suitable. “We’re in the process of making it.”

This year’s food will feature hamburgers, hotdogs, barbecue and fresh corn on the cob donated by a local farmer, Bass said. In future years, the tribe hopes to have more traditional offerings.

Other aspects of the powwow will be similar to past years, Bass said. Kay Oxendine, a Lumbee Indian, will be the master of ceremonies, with Jessie Fortune the head female dancer and Thomas Running Bear the head male dancer.

They will demonstrate traditional dances to the beats of two drum groups, War Paint and Smoky River.

Native arts and crafts will be available for sale, and demonstrations are always available.

Bass said the tribe welcomes everyone to the event.

“This is for us to share our culture, for people to know that Virginia Indians are still here, and we want to share that culture with the public,” he said.

He also added Suffolk Parks and Recreation, which partners with the tribe on the event, has been “a big supporter.”

“We really appreciate all they do for us,” he said.

The powwow will be held Aug. 16-17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Grand entry of the dancers is at noon Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Admission and parking are free, although donations are accepted. The powwow grounds are located at the end of Pembroke Lane, which runs off Godwin Boulevard directly across from Oakland Elementary School.