Suffolk’s yearly powwow returns

The annual Nansemond Indian Tribe powwow will return on Saturday and Sunday

By Alex Perry | Suffolk News Herald | Published 5:15 pm Saturday, August 11, 2018

The annual Nansemond Indian Tribe powwow will return on Saturday and Sunday for its 30th year celebrating Native American culture and heritage in Suffolk.

The will also be the first celebration since the tribe received federal recognition earlier this year.

The powwow will be held on Saturday and Sunday on the tribe’s Chuckatuck land at 1001 Pembroke Lane, just off Godwin Boulevard and across from Oakland Elementary School. Festivities will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The grand entry ceremony will begin at noon on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday, in which the tribal chiefs, honor guard and dancers in traditional regalia will present the colors before they dance to the beat of drums.

Kay Oxendine will be the master of ceremonies for the powwow. The lead adult dancers will be Olivia and Matthew Richardson, while Chloe Greene and Robbie Bass will be the lead junior dancers. War Paint and Stoney Creek will provide the music and singing.

“It’s kind of special with everyone coming in at one time,” said Earl Bass, chief emeritus of the Nansemond Indian Tribe. “You have dancers wearing their different regalia and looking the best they can.”

Military veterans and their family members will be invited into the circle alongside the tribal dancers for the audience to applaud them for their service and sacrifices.

“That’s really a special and emotional dance. We respect our veterans and we want to give them honor every time we have a powwow,” Bass said.

Food sales will include hamburgers, hot dogs, pork BBQ sandwiches and chips to go with traditional flavors like Native American fried bread and Indian Tacos. Bass said the tacos have been a popular delicacy for the last four years.

“I’ve had some people that grew up in other states say that ours are the best they’ve ever had,” he said.

Visitors will peruse the wares of traditional arts, craft and jewelry vendors. They will enjoy the splendor of Mattanock Town, an authentic historical village with dwellings, walking trails and more sights. Bags will be distributed to visitors at the gate with mementos that commemorate the powwow’s 30th anniversary.

More importantly, the Nansemond tribe will celebrate the federal recognition that they and five other Virginia tribes received in January. The tribe was awarded $171,502 on May 24 for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant, which can be for housing development, services and assistance under the Indian Housing Program.

This year’s triumphs will be on the minds of the Nansemond Indians, along with the numerous other tribes that expect to draw more than 1,000 visitors to Chuckatuck on Saturday and Sunday, Bass said.

There is no admission fee for the event. Call 277-4183 or visit for more information.

Share this post