Heritage runs strong among the Coharie Tribe. For 46 years now, the Annual Cultural Pow Wow has been held as a way to celebrate and maintain Native American heritage.
The 46th annual Pow Wow celebration is scheduled for Sept. 11-12. This year’s Pow Wow will be host to various other events and a tribute to those veterans who have served. There will be a display of veteran pictures and their memorabilia throughout the two day celebration.
The Pow Wow will feature Native American dancing, drumming and food, along with crafts, regalias, artwork and gospel singing.
Festivities are set to begin at 5:30 p.m on Friday at the Coharie Tribal Center, 7531 N US Hwy 421 Clinton. Grand entry will be on Friday at 7:25 p.m. On Saturday, the 5th Annual Warriors Memorial Ride registration will begin at 8 a.m. Grand entry on Saturday will begin at 1 p.m. and again at 6:15 p.m.
The Warriors Memorial Ride is a way to honor veterans and military service personnel. The ride will begin at the Coharie Tribal Center and will leave promptly at 10 a.m. The riders will travel 88 miles through Sampson County. Following the ride, participants will have an opportunity to show off their motorcycles and enjoy lunch.
According to information provided by the Coharie Tribe’s Chief, Gene Jacobs, whose Indian name is Two Feathers, the Annual Cultural Pow Wow is the most important event of the year for the Coharie Tribe and other tribes in North Carolina. It is a time to celebrate the history of our ancestors and reflect on their struggles to open the doors of opportunity for future generations of Native American Indians. It is also a time of unity and education for our younger generation.
“It will be a time of education, enjoyment and good food for the whole family,” Jacobs said.
In participating or attending the event, Jacobs would also remind everyone of the sacredness of the dance arena. Running and playing within the dance arena is not allowed, nor is it proper for spectators to cross the arena during the Pow Wow. The dance arena is considered a sacred circle, and if one enters the circle, they should always walk or dance in a clockwise direction, entering and exiting in the same place. This, he said, shows respect for the sacredness of the circle.
“It is so refreshing and encouraging to see the younger generation of Native American Indians stepping up into leadership roles in the tribe,” Jacobs said. “We have seen a tremendous increase this year in youth and young adult participation in tribal affairs.”
According to Jacobs, Brad Brewington, who is serving as the Pow Wow Committee chairman, and the drum team, Smokey River recently held a truck show that cleared over $1,000 profit for the Pow Wow. Other youth, the chief said, have worked at the tribal grounds over the summer in an effort to beautify the grounds in preparation for the Pow Wow. We could not be more proud. Jacobs encourages more youth and young adults to get involved and participate in Pow Wow events.
While a Pow Wow may seem like entertainment to an outsider, the grounds and ceremonies are all sacred events, blessed by the chief prior to the beginning of the ceremony.
As a way to honor the tribe’s traditions and the sacredness of the ceremony, Jacobs says there should be no drugs, alcohol, profanity or boisterous behavior on the tribal grounds. The Coharie Pow Wows began in 1969 under the leadership of James D. Brewington, who was chief at the time.
Each dance session begins with a grand entry, a procession of royalty and dancers. The flag bearers lead the procession carrying the eagle staff, American flag, and frequently, the POW/MIA flag.
Being a flag bearer is an honor usually given to a veteran, a respected traditional dancer, or an elder. Indian royalty are next, consisting of tribal and organizational princesses, braves and other dignitaries. The head dancers lead a single file procession of dancers arranged by category and age. As a sign of respect, everyone is asked to stand during the grand entry and men should remove their head coverings.
Today’s Coharie Tribe is located in the southeastern region of the state, including Sampson, Harnett and Cumberland counties. Members of the Coharie Tribe are descendants of the Neusiok Indians. Presently, there are more than 2,000 members of the tribe.
For more information regarding the 2015 Cultural Pow Wow call 910 564-6909 or www.coharietribe.org. For registration information for the Memorial Ride contact Vinnie Bryant at 910 337-3951 or on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.