Powwow celebrates First Nations’ culture

(Plain Press, July 2007) A deep, soulful melody played on a flute could be heard in neighborhoods close to Edgewater Park, mysteriously drawing people to the American Indian Education Center’s 13th Annual Powwow and Festival at Edgewater Park on Sunday, June 17. First Nations people from throughout North and Central America came to participate in the Powwow.

Many Clevelanders also attended the powwow to sample foods, purchase many handmade arts and crafts, listen to storytellers, hear music of flutes and drums, and witness intertribal and exhibition dancing. A highlight at the Powwow was a dance exhibition by Aztec dancers from Mexico.

Ross and Linda Maracle of the Tyendinaga Mohawk were among the many vendors selling handmade arts and crafts. The many items for sale in their booth included beautiful feathered headbands. Ross Maracle, who was named Rah-Wa-Na-ha-W by his father, gives Ontario, Canada as a reference point to where his home is located.

Roger Davis of Newberry, Ohio, who is part Cherokee and part Shawnee, participated in the grand entrance on Sunday in a regalia he made in the Dakota tradition. After a Dakota friend interested him in the tradition, Davis taught himself some of the skills necessary to make the regalia. A coyote head serves as a headdress and the remainder of the pelt hangs down his back. Around his neck you can see buffalo teeth and bear claws. The deer hide leather clothing Davis wears is made through a rain tanning process. He says he scraped the flesh and hair from the hide. He then soaks the hide in a water and deer brain mixture and continues a process of soaking and stretching the hide until a soft leather is produced. Davis said the hide is pure white after this process. He smokes the hide to add color. He also uses black walnut husks to dye portions of the hide to make them even darker.

Native American Storyteller Florence Toledo hails from nearby Brooklyn Heights, Ohio. Toledo, whose nationality is Cherokee, says storytelling is a way a peoples’ history was passed on orally. Toledo worked for the Cleveland Public Schools until the early 1980s in a program that served Native American children on the Near West Side of Cleveland at schools such as Orchard and Max Hayes.

(see photos from the event here)

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