A “modern-day cultural phenomenon” can be experienced this July during the 23rd annual Seneca Pow Wow.
The phenomenon, described by Seneca Pow Wow Chairwoman Pamela Bowen, is “a celebration of Native American identity and expression,” she said, adding the event will feature drum and dance competitions as well as Native food, arts and craft vendors.
The event, to be held the weekend of July 21 and 22 at Veteran’s Park on Broad Street in Salamanca, continues a tradition of hosting the Pow Wow that began on Seneca Nation Territory in July 1989.
Although she said she is unclear of the origins of Pow Wows, they are held throughout Indian Territory every weekend during the summer months as thousands of dancers, singers and vendors follow the Pow Wow trail across the continent to celebrate their respective cultures and compete.
Some, she said, believe Pow Wows first began in the Southern Plans, while others think they originated in the east. She said her understanding is that early organizers began holding them here as a way to extend hands in friendship to neighbors and other nations.
“Whatever the origins, we believe that Pow Wow represents the good spirit of hospitality, and that is common to all of us,” she said.
No matter the origins, Ms. Bowen welcomes all to enjoy Native arts, crafts, food, dancers and drumming when gates open at 10 a.m. both days.
Visitors can expect to find a whole menu of Native foods including fry bread, Indian tacos, corn soup and strawberry drink. Some of the territory’s best bead workers, basket makers and carvers will have handiwork on display and for sale.
A colorful grand entry of dancers will kick-off the Pow Wow at noon and 7 p.m. Saturday and at noon Sunday. Dancers will be led into the arena by the eagle staff as well as this year’s honored head dancers, Pierce Harrison from Phoenix, Ariz. and Denise One Star from Mission, S. D. The host northern drum is Blackfoot Crossing from Calgary, Alberta, and the host southern drum is the Southern Boyz from Lawton, Okla. Pow Wow visitors will be kept informed of what’s going on by nationally-renown Pow Wow master of ceremonies, Dennis Bowen Sr., a Seneca, now residing in Tuba City, Ariz.
Fancy dancers and jingle dress dancers, tiny tots and elders are some of the dance competition categories, and a drum contest will be on-going throughout the weekend.
The first Pow Wow in North America to sponsor a smoke dance contest was the Keeper of the Western Door Pow Wow in Salamanca, and the tradition continues, as some of the best smoke dancers in the world compete against the songs of Seneca singer John Block.
For more information, visit www.senecapowwow.org, or facebook@SenecaPowWowAssociation.