A little native culture

You know how we are on cultural adventures around here but it’s usually something international. Today we decided to experience something a little more local. For the last 20 years there has been a powwow at Stone Mountain Park. For about the last 10 years I’ve wanted to go. For about the last 10 years there’s been something going on that weekend. This weekend, there wasn’t!

I never really knew much about powwows, I had heard of them but thought they were strictly for native Americans. The Girl Scout council here has a council’s own badge girls can earn and one of the activities is to attend a powwow. I remember thinking “can we do that?”. Well, apparently we can.

This is a four-day event. Today’s activities started at 10 but the grand entry was at 1 p.m. and we got there just in time for the flag ceremony. Not in time to be anywhere that we could actually see but we managed. Seeing as it is Veteran’s  Day weekend they featured an MIA/POW flag in addition to the US flag and an eagle staff (covered in feathers).

That’s the eagle staff in the middle, held by the gentleman in the red coat.

They recognized native veterans and then invited all veterans into the circle for a dance. The MC talked about how during the wars prior to WWI, natives fought on both sides. It wasn’t until WWI that they all fought on the same side identifying as Americans. Following that anyone who wanted to dance was invited into the circle. The only requirement was that “everyone dance in the same direction”. I was really surprised at how open it was. Not that I thought that people would be snobby but that I always think of native American things as being sacred and just for tribal memories. It’s always nice to see people so eager to welcome outsiders into their culture.

We watched the dancing for awhile then Katy wanted to go check out all the vendors. Lots of pretty things. Katy came away with two types of flutes. I’m now wishing I’d gotten her a poncho, there were so many nice ones.

After looking at the vendors we went to look at the demonstrations.

We got there just in time for a bird show so that’s where Heath and Katy wanted to go.

This is Libby, a bald eagle. Her claim to fame is that she flew at an Atlanta Falcon’s game on July 4th of some year, I don’t remember.

Libby is fast. We saw her fly but I couldn’t get a picture mid-flight. This is her nailing the landing.

Libby isn’t really very smart, but she does have ideas of her own and today her idea was to grab hold of the female handler’s glove and refuse to give it back. The male handler did say something like eagles are really smart about being dumb.

They finally got her drop it and then the show continued.

While the bird show was going on there was also a presentation on native American daily life, hunting and so on and I decided to go listen to that.

I missed the beginning so I didn’t get this man’s name. Later while he was posing for photos he said his mother is Creek but he’s mostly Irish and Scottish. He talked about how when the natives and Europeans began trading with each other the European men who ran the trading posts would marry native wives and as a result from then on many of the chiefs were of “mixed blood”. Anyway, he was very interesting and very entertaining. He talked about scalping and said “we don’t scalp people now, we just get you in the casinos”.

Holding tools made from natural items. He talked about how when people would kill an animal they not only ate the meat but used every part of the animal that they could for clothes, jewelry and ornamentation, tools, household items (for instance a turtle shell for a plate). He talked about the evolution of weapons from very basic spears (just a stick with a sharp end) to removable arrow heads, and more adaptations of the spear until the bow and arrow was invented around the time of the ice age. Then eventually the Europeans show up and they have these really cool sticks that make fire and a big explosion. Now everyone wants a musket and is willing to trade buck skins and other things for whatever the Europeans needed.

Where all the action was.

 

He showed so many clever things but I really thought this was neat. It was a quiver for arrows made out of a hollowed-out alligator gar fish.

The bird show ended and Heath and Katy came and caught the very end of this presentation.

At the end of the bird show Katy got to hold a great horned owl.

Katy was thrilled, I can’t say how the owl felt.

So after the presentations we wandered around to look at the various set ups.

What’s for dinner?

Well, we have dried apple and pumpkin rings roasting of the fire and the brown stuff in front is buffalo meat. See the pumpkin on the ground? That contains a stew full of turkey meat and various beans and vegetables. Cook it in the pumpkin, eat it straight from the pumpkin and when you’re through, toss the pumpkin out for an animal to eat. No dishes to wash! Well, maybe the spoon you used. This guy (whose name I also didn’t get) said he likes to get the little pumpkins from the grocery store, hollow them out and bake eggs in them. He doesn’t really taste like pumpkin but it has a different taste.

And speaking of food, these children are grinding pecans into flour.

This woman was talking about how to use reeds to drain the water off of a tipi. She was also teaching kids how to braid thin pieces of braid into rope.

On the way out we stopped to watch the senior men’s dance. They were very good.

I really wanted to try some fry bread but apparently everyone else did, too, and the line was really long. The rest of the food vendors were your usual chicken strips, funnel cakes and ice cream. I was a little disappointed, I wanted to try some native foods. But over all it was a really interesting day.

 

 

 

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