Members of the Wichita Kansas Intertribal Warrior Society will honor veterans this weekend with a two-day powwow.
Visitors will encounter a colorful panorama of dancers, arts and crafts booths, aromatic food and riveting storytelling. Here are eight things to look for and appreciate at this weekend's event:
1) The dancing. Whether you watch the somewhat informal gourd dances Saturday and Sunday afternoon, or the more colorful and ritualistic intertribal dancing Saturday night, you'll see lots of symbolism, pageantry and history.
"You will see men dressed in their regalia, with a fan in one hand and a gourd in another, dancing in a circle around a drum in a certain rhythm," Alex Bade, Warrior Society treasurer, said of the gourd dances.
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"This represents warriors on the path hunting, and behind them are women dancers, usually family members, who represent the family back home supporting their men, the warriors."
2) Saturday night features the grand entry and intertribal dancing, beginning about 7 p.m. Intertribal dances tend to be more colorful than gourd dances, and they are open to members of the public to participate, either by dancing or simply walking among the dancers.
"We try to spread the Native American culture in our community and there is no better place to do that than at a powwow," said Bade, who is Choctaw.
"We want to demonstrate parts of our culture, but also to talk about it, to answer questions. The very meaning of the intertribal dance, in particular, is that all cultures are welcome here."
3) The grand entry features a colorful presentation of flags representing country, state and various tribes. It occurs just before the intertribal dancing Saturday night.
"It's very much akin to a military flag-raising ceremony, where the Warrior Society will parade those flags in a circle with Native American songs as the dancers fall in line behind those flags," Bade said. "It's a very special event."
4) Before the grand entry, visitors can take part in a free dinner featuring fry bread, corn soup, sandwiches, fruits and vegetables and more. It begins about 5 p.m. Saturday and is open to the public.
5) Vendors, many of them Native American, will be selling arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing and other wares throughout the powwow. "A lot of the vendors are very knowledgeable about what they sell, the Native American culture behind it, and are more than happy to talk about it," Bade said.
6) Storytelling. Check out booths where storytellers illustrate Native American culture and customs through parables and stories that have been handed down from generation to generation.
7) Honoring veterans. The whole point of this powwow is to pay tribute to veterans, Bade said. "Native Americans hold warriors and veterans in very high estimation," he said. "That's especially true at a powwow like this. You'll see veterans from almost all of the conflicts and wars, from World War II to Korea to Vietnam to the Persian Gulf War to Iraq," he said. "We hold honor dances, where veterans in the crowd are welcome to come down and they have a special song for that. It's a very moving and very emotional song."
8) Food. If you miss out on the free dinner Saturday night, vendors will be selling Native American fare and concessions like hot dogs and chips on both days.
If you go
veterans day powwow
What: Two-day powwow hosted by the Wichita Kansas Intertribal Warrior Society
Where: Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 N. Seneca
When: 1-10 p.m. Sat., 1-6 p.m. Sun.
Sat.: Gourd dancing 1-5 p.m., dinner 5-6 p.m., grand entry 6:30 p.m., intertribal dancing 7-10 p.m.
Sun.: Gourd dancing all day.
How much: Free. For more information, call 316-708-6254.