Sunday, April 15, 2012

Catawba Native People's Pow Wow April 14, 2012

They came in led by the Eagle Staff, proud Native People from many Tribes and Nations throughout the United States of America. Very young to very old, they came, dressed in their native regalia ready to dance to the Native Drum. They came to Rock Hill, SC on this beautiful weekend! They came to Catawba Native American Land. They came to share their wares, to dance and celebrate and to compete. They came these Proud People trying to hold on to their Heritage and to enlighten others as to Who they are!

And me, American Mut that I am, was invited to their Sacred Time. Me, with a little bit of Scotch Irish, a little bit of German and a little bit of Pennsylvania Dutch sat there as the Cherokee blood coursed through my veins. There I sat with the blood of the Native Peoples from North Carolina nourishing my organs and my very Soul. And I knew I was home with my people. I was there connected through my father as many different Nations and Tribes gathered to dance and celebrate!

And I began to cry! The tears came without warning as these Grand People came together showing they are strong and Alive and still here. And I grieved for what had been done to these Proud Original Occupants of this country we call the United States. I grieved for the deaths that were caused in the name of the Christian Church. I was overcome by so much sadness as I remembered children being taken from their parents and put in Christian Schools to "civilize and Christianize" them by cutting their hair, giving them Christian names, "white" clothing and refusing to allow them to use their Native Language. The Christian Religion was forced upon these Native Peoples in the name of their King Jesus Christ. They were forced onto reservations and treaties were written down and promises made; most of which never were honored by these "White Men" who came into the land of the Native Peoples and claimed it for their own. And yet, here they were smiling, dancing, celebrating! And I began to Sob as I stood up taller and claimed my Heritage along side of them! I cried as I saw how proud and free they were on this weekend when it was OK to be the Native People!

Seven Drum Groups were there to provide that deep and knowing music from the Sacred Drum. And they danced; young and old; they came to dance and tell their stories and share their sacred rituals from so long ago and still present in their lives today.

Proud people they are! Spiritual People they are! Dancing as Warriors and Gathers; dancing giving thanks to Grandmother Earth and Grandfather Sky; dancing to give honor to the animals that provide food and clothing and tools; dancing to call the Buffalo and the Elk and the Deer to them; dancing in clothing made by their own hands exactly as they were when they were looked at as Heathens by the intruders from across the Sea.

And I sat for 4 hours and watched as the children, the teens, the women and men danced for not only themselves and the Divine but for those of us so honored to be in their presence!

I wanted it to never end! But like the Native Peoples know there is more to life than the dancing and the ritual. There are children to raise, crops to plant, meat to find, homes to clean, food to cook, love to be made, disagreements to be settled and work to be done. These Native Peoples live as One with the Spirit in this Garden trying so hard to hold on to their heritage and their beliefs and their way of life in a world that wants everyone to be the same and that same is defined by the person doing the defining. It was wonderful to see so many different Peoples coming together dancing the same dance but with dress that is significant to their individual Tribe and steps just a little different. And here they were all in one place; laughing, talking, eating and sharing what they had with each other.

Those not dancing were selling their wares. It is a sharing and a way to make money. They were honest about that which was made by hand and that which was machine made. They were ready to tell their stories and share how they made the items. Being a pagan witch I had not yet added an Athame to my altar. I don't like knives and so resisted that addition to my magick. And yet when I walked by one of the tables there were "knives" made from deer and turkey bones and I stopped knowing I had found my Athame! The man behind the table told me he had made all the items and was from the Lumbee tribe. He showed me the different knives and I told him that I was looking at them to add to my altar and ritual. He reached down and picked up a deer rib and handed it to me. It fit neatly in  my hand and I knew it was made for me! I paid him for it and thanked him for his work and his faithful dedication to his Heritage. He smiled missing many teeth and went back to eating his lunch.

And then there was Her! She haunted me the entire 7 hours I was at the Pow Wow. She made me stop in my tracks as I walked by the booth of the artist Lola R. Swimmer. She hung on the wall and cried out to me and I stood mesmerized. She spoke words of the Ancient Ways to me, but She also spoke of my Path and my Journey without ever saying a word.

I Dance Before You is the title of this original acrylic on canvas painting! I could not stop thinking about Her and would get up during breaks from the dancing and stand before Her and look as if my soul depended on it. Lola let me look and this talented Woman; Crone; Grandmother spoke little until I returned at the end of the day and told Her that She had to go home with me. Lola R. Swimmer smiled and said she knew. She then told me that she usually did not sell her originals, but made prints of them. But in a dream recently Spirit told her that it was time to sell her originals because she painted not for herself but for others and now she knew it to be true. She told me that this woman sees the star in the top of the painting that is only for her and is her Vision; the stars surrounding her are the visions and plans and dreams of the woman drifting toward the Star ! She is dancing before the Moon celebrating this Vision She has! And then Lola R. Swimmer looked at my shirt and said, "Yes, She is to go home with you! Look your shirt is covered with stars!" And yes it was. I don't wear this top often, but did today to the Pow Wow! She is home with me and hangs in my bedroom facing the bed so I see her when I go to sleep and when I awaken with Father Sun! 

                                            Lola R. Swimmer, Artist

So many powerful emotions ran through me during this time with the People! But none so special as when a woman came and sat beside me. She asked me what was going on. She told me she lived only a mile away and that she was on her way home and saw that a Pow Wow was going on and she had to stop. She is from Germany and even tho' she has lived here for 50 years she was not familiar with this gathering. Her name was Erika and she is 74 years old. I shared with her the story of the Native People and why they now gather in Pow Wows. I explained the drums and the dances and the regalia and the Heritage of these Proud People. She was enthralled and told me she knew there was a reason she had to stop and was so glad I did not mind her sitting by me so she could learn.

It was my time to share the Heritage that I have coursing through my veins even tho' we did not claim or celebrate it as our Heritage in our family. It has only been within the past 20 years that it has been spoken of and looked at by my immediate family. I claimed it as my own in the early 70's when I first discovered that we in fact were of Native descent. I was blessed as this day ended and I got into my car to travel back home.

I am forever changed after this day! I love the affirmation of my Vision Quest and the Path I am now on! I loved being invited to join in this time of celebration and this time of focusing on the richness of a time that others so desperately tried to rid from this lush and beautiful country. I am honored and blessed by a People who have so much to offer and do so willingly and openly!

Blessed be!


  1. Such an inspiring post. I Dance Before You is an awesome piece of art. I don't have any Native blood in me (that I know of) but she speaks to the woman in me. Blessings on your journey.

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