Rain doesn’t dampen tribal spirit

Apr. 19, 2014 @ 07:41 PM

HOLLISTER — Charity Drew and her friends drove from Littleton to see their first Haliwa-Saponi powwow.

They came for the grand opening ceremony and dancing competitions, but unfortunately all the dancing was canceled Saturday because of rain.

“It’s OK; we will come back tomorrow,” Drew said.

The 49th annual Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe powwow began Friday at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School and powwow grounds and will continue through Sunday.

It is the oldest continuous powwow in North Carolina.

Drew and her colleague, Cathy Campbell, heard of the event because some of their students at KIPP Gaston College Preparatory are members of the tribe.

“We wanted to come and learn more because we don’t know very much about the Haliwa-Saponi,” Campbell said.

Sissy Thompson and her mom, Nancy, said they have been attending the Haliwa-Saponi powwow for about 30 years.

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“I like to come to see the celebrations and the jewelry,” Nancy Thompson said.

Sissy Thompson, who is Cherokee, said she comes to purchase new materials for the crafts she sells.

“I make chokers, so I look for bone beads and pelts for head pieces,” she said. “They have some wonderful crafters here.”

Brian Lynch, a tribe member who helped organize the powwow, said they decided to cancel the dancing competition because the regalia can be very expensive, and they don’t want it getting wet.

But the organizers planned ahead.

“We knew this rain was coming, so we tried to do as much as we could yesterday,” Lynch said.

There were 30 vendors from all over the country, including New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Connecticut, D.C., Virginia, Michigan and Ohio.

They sold dreamcatchers, clothing, feather hair pieces, beadwork jewelry, purses, artwork, and other artifacts.

Cindy and Chris Bowman, members of the Osage Nation, have been selling their work at the powwow for more than 10 years.

“We’ve known these people here for so long,” Cindy Bowman said. “So even though we are not of this tribe, they feel like family.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.