Nansemond powwow set

Published 5:42 pm Saturday, August 8, 2015

Two longhouses will be the centerpieces of this year’s Nansemond Indian Powwow next weekend.

The annual event is set for Aug. 15-16. As always, it will feature an immersive experience of Indian dancing, music, dress, crafts and culture, as well as food for sale to benefit the tribe.

New this year are the two longhouses — one completed and one in an exposed framework stage — that will eventually be part of the tribe’s Mattanock Town cultural village display. A dugout canoe, cooking grid and other displays also are at the ready, Chief Earl Bass said.

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“We’re just kind of setting up a little demonstration area,” he said. “We’re starting to look at things that will be going into our village once we get our village completed.”

The city transferred the land, formerly part of Lone Star Lakes Park, back to the tribe in 2013. The tribe believes, based on historical research, its ancestors had their village on or near the site.

Bass said the process of getting Mattanock Town going has been slow, mostly because of funding issues. However, the powwow helps raise money and interest in the project.

“Fundraising has been our biggest issue,” he said. “We’re steadily working at it, and we’ve got a good group of people working with us.”

The tribe started making and selling food for the powwow itself last year, to raise money for Mattanock Town. This year, Indian fry bread will be added to the menu along with offerings such as hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue.

Bass said a lot of Indian dancers will be on site, particularly because honor dances are planned for a Chickahominy dancer who recently passed away.

“A lot of people are coming for honor dances,” he said. “We should be having quite a few dancers more.”

Bass encouraged people to come out and learn more about Indian culture, both how it is today and what it was like 400 years ago in what’s now known as Virginia.

“Just come out and see,” Bass said. “It’s a good family event. It doesn’t anybody anything to come. We’re just trying to keep our ancestors and that culture alive. It seems like it gets more difficult every year.”

The Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation co-sponsors the event, and the Richard Bennett Trust also gives a donation, Bass said. Both keep the tribe from having to charge admission, Bass said.

The powwow runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Grand entry of the dancers is at noon Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

The powwow grounds are located at the end of Pembroke Lane, which runs off Godwin Boulevard directly across from Oakland Elementary School.