Native Americans joined together on sacred grounds to revel in the deep roots of their people.
The Sacred Springs Powwow Saturday on the shores of Spring Lake was, for some of the indigenous persons present, a way to demonstrate their culture to the general public. For others, it was an opportunity to revive something that was stripped from them generations ago.
“Dancing is a prayer,” said Tegheyakte, from the Lakota Tribe of South Dakota. “When you dance, you pray to Mother Earth and all of the indigenous people who have survived. You pray for the future.”
The shores of Spring Lake play host to the celebration every year because archaeologists determined the site to be the oldest continuously inhabited site in North America. The site, for many of the native people, is the place they believe to have originated.
An opening blessing prompted the event to begin that morning.
Throughout the day, grand entries of all those dressed in native regalia took place in between gourd dancers performing traditional routines. Artists were present selling their wares.
Juan Martinez, nationally featured artist, donated a compelling print for this year’s powwow, illustrating the eagle and condor prophecy: the indigenous people from the north and south coming together.
Many simply enjoyed the colorful get-ups and fry-bread tacos, but this gathering of Natives was a chance for the different tribes to represent themselves both individually and as an entire people, said Talleear Montez, Chiricahua Apache.
“There was a time when people thought that Native Americans might have been extinct because the government wouldn’t let us come out and represent ourselves,” Montez said. “But now we’re able to. We’re able to visit with our friends from other states and tribes.”
Shecloud Walker of the Algonquin tribe from Canada said she has been carrying on the tradition from her mother, Three Bears, and hopes to pass it on to her grandchildren.
“What’s old is what’s new,” she said. “We circle back around. Powwows such as these keep our traditions, like speaking my native language, alive and provide the opportunity to pass them on to the generations to come.”
This year, the powwow was held in honor of Lucky Tomblin, the originator of the first Sacred Springs Powwow in 1995.
“We come together as family, as powwows, and talk, laugh and unite,” Montez said.