Make time for powwow

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, August 16, 2014

If you’ve never made the effort to go to the Nansemond Indian Tribe’s powwow, or haven’t been in a long time, this is the year you should put it on your schedule.

Traditionally a sort of family reunion for American Indian tribes, modern-day powwows serve as a way for tribal members to preserve the culture and heritage of their ancestors and share that with the public.

But they can’t do that if people don’t come.

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Saturday’s powwow enjoyed excellent turnout to go with good weather. The powwow continues today, and if a small chance of thunderstorms holds off, it will be another good day for it.

The members of the Nansemond tribe are a congenial, generous lot who would love to share their heritage with local folks. Visitors to the powwow can expect to see authentic traditional dancing, music and crafts as well as a garden and the construction of a longhouse in its infancy. Questions about the way their ancestors lived or did things light a spark in the eyes of most tribal members and will get an enthusiastic answer.

The tribe would also appreciate your support — even if it’s just encouraging words — for its Mattanock Town project as well as its continued quest for federal recognition, along with five other Virginia tribes.

The Mattanock Town project, named after the tribe’s ancestral village on or near the site, got going last year after the city deeded about 70 acres of land to the tribe. It will include powwow grounds, an authentic dispersed Native American village, educational displays, reburial grounds for Nansemond remains and more.

The search for federal recognition also continues for the Nansemond and five other tribes who, thanks to courthouse fires, racist historical revisionists and other natural and man-made wrongs through the years, cannot prove their connection to the continent’s first inhabitants through the traditional methods. They are seeking a direct act of Congress to make their recognition a reality, and you can learn about that, too, at the powwow.

The powwow goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the site, down Pembroke Lane from Godwin Boulevard, directly across from Oakland Elementary School. Get there at 1 p.m. to see the grand entry of the dancers — it’s not to be missed.