Coharie set to offer colorful cultural experience

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

September 1, 2013

For the 44th year running, the Coharie Indian Cultural Pow-Wow will pay tribute to the tribe’s rich and storied heritage in Sampson County and continue its drive to teach others about Native American culture and pass those traditions on to a younger generation.

The Pow-Wow has always been about celebrating, and sharing, that culture.

“The Pow-Wow is just a coming together of not only our tribe but the other tribes in North Carolina and surrounding states, and also non-tribal members to come together and see our culture,” said Charlene Jacobs, marketing director and volunteer for the Coharie Tribe. “We’re just trying to keep our culture alive. We don’t live on reservations like what people picture when they think of Indians, but we still celebrate our heritage and our ancestors for how far they came and the contributions they have made to our lives to get us this far.”

The 44th annual Coharie Pow-Wow is slated for Saturday, Sept. 13, and Sunday, Sept. 14.

It will feature drumming and dancing, beadwork and quilt-making, crafts, artwork, Gospel singing, various American Indian foods and a Warrior’s Ride and Spoken Word event. A car show sponsored by the Coharie People will be held a week before the Pow-Wow this year.

“We’re just carrying on the tradition,” said Jacobs. “We don’t want to forget our culture. We want to let the young people know how we existed all these years.”

The two-day event will be held at the Coharie Tribal Center, located on U.S. 421 about nine miles north of Clinton, and will begin at 6 p.m., Friday and the grand entry at 7:25 p.m. There will be dancing, drumming and singing leading up to the 2nd annual Cultural Spoken Word event at 9 p.m. Friday.

The Friday night event, extending until 1 a.m. Saturday, will highlight the progression of Native American culture through spoken word and all other expressions of art, including song, drum, flute and dance. This year, the event will focus on the power, courage and importance of women in native communities.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be a Warriors Memorial Ride thanking all veterans and service personnel. The caravan of cars and motorcycles will leave from the tribal grounds at 10 a.m. and travel nearly 90 miles around Sampson County. Registration will start at 8 a.m. and will be $20 per vehicle and $5 per rider, which includes admission into the Pow-Wow.

Saturday’s main event will kick off with grand entry at 1 p.m.

“At the grand entry, they will present the chief and the dignitaries of the tribes, and also honor the veterans,” said Jacobs. “One of the first things they’ll do is bless the grounds. There will be Gospel signing between the events. There will be competitive dancing, drum competition and many different dancing competitions — traditional, jingle and grass dances — for all ages.”

There will be a plethora of other activities throughout the day Saturday leading up to the closing night’s concert, featuring Nash Vegas Band.

“The Coharie People Board and the Coharie Intertribal Board would like to welcome everyone to come out and enjoy this cultural event,” Coharie Chief Gene Jacobs said.

The theme this year is “We’re Still Here.”

Based on a song by Nadine Patrick released last year, it tells the story of different tribes in North Carolina and the trials they have endured to thrive. The song was not written specifically for Coharie, but local tribe officials have taken it to heart and will play it at the event.

“It acknowledges that we are still here, where we’ve been and how hard our ancestors worked,” said Charlene Jacobs, who is also one the board for the N.C. Department of Indian Affairs, representing the Coharie Indians in Sampson. “Sometimes, even in normal life, you lose focus. You take for granted that it’s always been this way and it’s always going to be this way. It just gives us a renewing of our spirit to know how thankful and grateful we are to the Lord that he has allowed us to exist and stay together.”

Car show moved up

The classic car show, which has traditionally been on the same day as the Pow-Wow main event and held in conjunction with the Warriors Ride, will be done a little differently this year.

The 1st annual Prelude to the Pow-Wow Car Show will be held the Saturday preceding the Pow-Wow, Sept. 7, at the old Skipper’s Restaurant parking lot. Jacobs said the change was made to cut down the congestion on the day of the Pow-Wow.

There is no charge for the public to come see the cars, but the entry fee for the classic car entries will be $15 per vehicle. Prizes will be given in a number of categories and a best overall winner crowned.

This year, the entry fees for the Pow-Wow itself have also been modified, extending the ages for children to get in free and offering free invites to seniors 80 and older. Attendees 6 years to 79 years old will pay $7 for entry. Everyone else gets in free of charge.

“We’re kind of giving the seniors a break, and adding another year to the children’s break,” Jacobs said.

All proceeds, whether it is the car show, spoken word event or the Pow-Wow, go back to the tribe, specifically feeding the senior community three days a week and the overall maintenance of its buildings and the grounds.

“We get no funds to take care of our buildings … and they are really old and dilapidated,” said Jacobs. “Three of our four buildings are leaking very bad and we’re having to put Band-Aids on the leaks until we can get money together to get them repaired.”

Along with raising much-needed money for the local tribe, the annual Pow-Wow serves as a rich cultural experience that honors old customs through song, dance and authentic craftwork. Coharie officials said they hope to share that heritage with everyone.

“We want this to be the biggest and best one ever,” said Jacobs.

For more information, visit the Coharie Tribe website:

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at