Nanticoke's 31st annual powwow coming

Organizers of the Nanticoke Indian Association’s annual powwow said this week that one of the best things about the powwow is the air of happiness and joy in renewing old friendships and seeing relatives for the first time since last year.

Another important feature, they said, is the returning visits by the 40 American Indian vendors whose family members also join the dance circle during powwow weekend. “People are polite and considerate of each other and our children and elders are given special consideration and attention. That’s the ‘Indian Way,” they said.

Visitors, guests and tourists from throughout the United States, Canada and several foreign countries attend the powwow each year.

“We extend a special invitation to residents of the Greater Millsboro area to make a special effort to attend this year,” organizers noted. “Upon arrival in the designated parking lot, you will be shuttled to the powwow grounds, where you will experience a very different atmosphere in a wooded area, the personal property of a tribal member.”

There are also many photographic opportunities at the powwow, considering the colorful regalia that dancers wear and the many different fashions/styles worn by the young and old alike. Organizers advised those attending to always listen to the master-of-ceremony during the powwow, as he will let people know when it is not appropriate to take pictures of the dancers. Not to worry though, they said, plenty of “Kodak moments” will present themselves during the weekend.

During the powwow, 40 vendors will display authentic native arts and crafts, jewelry, blankets, clothing, accessories and food. All these items are available for purchase for those attending or as gifts for others. Many of the vendors follow the “powwow circuit” from April through Thanksgiving and travel many thousands of miles each year to participate. For many American Indian families, this is their means of subsistence.

Among the many dances shown at the powwow is fancy dancing. Fancy dancing originated in the South during the early 1920’s.

“When they say, ‘You’ve come along way baby,’ they must have been talking about the Fancy Dance regalia,” organizers said this week. “Today’s outfits are the most striking aspect of a powwow with their U-shaped bustles with matching beadwork and flashy color combinations. The style of dancing is unlimited and the steps used vary with each dancer. Spins, turns, hops, and whatever is the trait of the ever-changing dancers may appear in their dance. First place fancy dancers win lots of money at contest powwows.”

Then there is the Shawl Dance, the women’s version of fancy dancing. It is a comparatively new style, having been around only a couple of decades. Shawl dancing originated among the Northern tribes and was quickly adopted by the Southern tribes.

The shawl is the most obvious aspect of the dance. This dance is the same as the men’s fancy, except the women are stepping high and spinning and turning.

Organizers are inviting the public to “come on down to ‘Nanticoke Town’ on Sept. 6 and 7 to join in the two-day powwow celebration.

No alcohol and no pets allowed on the grounds. Those attending are advised to bring lawn chairs and some friends.

Parking/admission costs $8 per car, $5 for motorcycles, with walk-in admission at $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission and parking costs $25 for buses, plus $2 for each person on the bus.

Highway signs on Route 24 (John J. Williams Highway) between Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach and Route 113 in Millsboro will guide those attending the powwow to the parking area/powwow site, where trams will transport them to the powwow grounds.

New this year are alternative parking arrangements for the handicapped. Attendees who are wheelchair-bound or who have motorized wheelchairs will enter the powwow grounds on Mount Joy Road and will be directed to the identified parking area, where unloading and access to seating is convenient.

Unless otherwise directed, handicapped attendees who normally use the general powwow parking area should continue to do so if they are able to load their wheelchair and ride the tram to the powwow grounds. Special seating for these handicapped individuals will continue to be available and monitored by powwow staff, organizers noted.