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Powwow back next weekend

By Alex Perry

A vibrant Suffolk festival is back for another year of honoring the past and preserving the traditions of the area’s original inhabitants.

The Nansemond Indian tribe will hold its annual powwow this Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19-20, at 1001 Pembroke Lane, which runs off Godwin Boulevard opposite Oakland Elementary School in Chuckatuck. The event is free to attend and will attract roughly a dozen different tribes from across the nation to celebrate their heritage and share their culture.

“It’s our annual event to show the public that we’re still here and share some of the traditions of our ancestors,” said Nansemond tribe chief emeritus Earl Bass.

The Grand Entry ceremonies will be at noon on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. These will showcase “traditional” and “fancy” dance routines performed by skilled dancers in traditional regalia. Master of ceremonies Kay Oxendine will explain to audiences the historical significance of each dance.

Bass described how impressed audiences have been by the dancers in years past.

“We’ve had people sitting up on the bleachers in the pouring down rain, sitting down watching the dancers,” he said.

Military veterans at the ceremony will be invited to join the dancers for a Veterans Dance that honors their services.

“Native Americans are warriors, and they always pay homage to the warriors that serve our country,” Bass said. “That’s a proud moment.”

Visitors will be able to see the longhouses of the tribe’s ongoing Mattanock Town project. Vendors will offer an eclectic array of traditional arts, crafts and jewelry. Fry bread, pork barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs and other refreshments will be sold.

Bass said the event will support the tribe and remind some that they are still an active force in the community.

“We’re still alive and we’re still here,” he said.

Saturday hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 277-4183 for more information.