Sampson Independent

Honoring Coharie heritage

The Coharie Pow Wow is a link to the past for today’s generations and a way to maintain Native American heritage among the tribe’s people.

The 49th annual Pow Wow celebration is scheduled for Sept. 7-8. This year’s Pow Wow kicks off Thursday with the American Indian Women of Proud Nations Conference that will bring in Native women from tribes across the country.

The Coharie Pow Wows began in 1969 under the leadership of James D. “Dob” Brewington, who was chief at the time.

The Pow Wow will feature Native American dancing, the crowning of the newly selected Coharie princesses and braves, drumming and food, along with crafts, beautifully-crafted regalia, artwork and gospel singing.

Pow Wow festivities are set to begin at 6 p.m on Friday at the Coharie Tribal Center, 7531 N US Hwy 421. On Saturday, the 8th annual Warriors Memorial Ride registration will begin at 8 a.m. Pow Wow events will begin at 9 a.m.

While many outsiders see the Pow Wow as a form of entertainment, the Pow Wow is a cultural legacy that should be respected. During this time, tribal families from across the state come together with friends to share memories of the past. The Coharie people use their Pow Wow as a way to reflect on their traditions, honor the past and celebrate the future.

According to Phil Strickland, Coharie Tribe chairperson, the annual event is the most important time of year for the tribe. It’s an opportunity for all Native American Indian people to celebrate and unite culture. The tribe also sees the Pow Wow as a way to share and educate the public on the Tribe’s culture.

“It will be a time of cultural enrichment, fellowship and fun for everyone,” Strickland said. “The revitalization of our people and community is encouraging. Projects such as the Great Coharie River Initiative and the Coharie Community Gardens are organized to unify the Coharie People. We have seen an immense increase of youth and young adult participation among tribal affairs as well as community projects.”

While at the Pow Wow, Strickland asked visitors to remember the tribal grounds and dance arena are both sacred places and are blessed through a smudging ceremony before the festivities begin. As a sacred place, spectators are asked to never run through the arena, and when entering, always move around in a clockwise direction and enter and exit from the same location.

Kicking off this year’s Pow Wow is the 10th annual American Indian Women of Proud Nations Conference. The conference incorporates Indigenous cultural traditions, language, history and values to build relationships and networks locally, regionally and across the state.

According to Candice Moore, member of the conference planning committee, the goal of this year’s event is to empower women through a holistic approach to healthy living.

Through the conference, Moore said guest speakers will discuss a variety of topics, including education and health among American Indian women.

In its eighth year, 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. The participating veterans and service personnel will be honored in the arena with a honor song. The general public is welcome to participate in this event. Simply go to and click on Warrior’s Ride to download the registration form.

Coharie male dancer Isaiah Robinson leads dancers into the arena during last year’s Pow Wow. male dancer Isaiah Robinson leads dancers into the arena during last year’s Pow Wow. Cindy Ivey|For the Independent
Smokey River Drummers sing the grand entry song during last year’s Pow Wow. River Drummers sing the grand entry song during last year’s Pow Wow. Cindy Ivey|For the Independent
Annual Pow Wow set for this weekend

By Kristy D. Carter

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.