SUMMITVILLE — There’s a reason it’s called Indiana.
Cyrus W. Hodgin, in his 1903 article “The Naming of Indiana,” explained that the name was originally derived by added an “a” to the name of the people from whom the land was obtained.
“Before Indiana became a state, there were as many as 103 different tribes that at one point called Indiana home,” said Greg Grabhorn of the White Buffalo Society.
The Muncie-based group invites people old and young to join them for their 15th annual pow wow this weekend – a gathering that celebrates Native American culture and educates as well. The pow wow this year takes place in a new venue at Summitville Community Center.
“There’s a lot to do for every member of the family,” said Grabhorn. He said the event is geared to inform. “It’s very important to all of us as a society. It is very big that hopefully you learn something… A lot of people really don’t know about the culture.” Grabhorn estimated about 800 people attended last year’s event, although he described the White Buffalo Society’s pow wow as a smaller one.
“It’s really quite fascinating,” said Grabhorn. “You feel the togetherness, the closeness, the feeling like a family type atmosphere.”
Drumming and dancing are key parts of the two-day event, replete with the colorful regalia of tribal ceremonial dress. Grabhorn said that two different drum groups will perform, Ohio-based Thunder with the Hands, and Winter Hawk, a group that hails from northern Indiana.
“It’s all native music,” said Grabhorn.
Grabhorn said that different tribes are represented in the dances, including Potawatomie, Miami, Delaware, Cherokee, Shawnee, Apache, Sioux, Lakota and Dakota. Different kinds of dances, like the fancy shawl dance, sneak up dance and grass dance, are performed in a variety of traditional Native American dress, including headdresses, ribbon shirts, chaps and buckskin dresses.
“We encourage the public to come out and join the dances,” said Grabhorn. He said staff is on hand to help, but, “We encourage them to dance how they feel to the drumbeat.
Everybody kind of picks up on a different vibe to the drum.”
There will be fun for the kids, including native storytellers as well as the Candy Dance where kids 12 and under get inside the arena to travel in a circle while the drum plays. When the drumming stops, it’s time to pick up candy.
The pow wow opens at 10 a.m. Saturday with vendors set up on the grounds. Vendors will offer things like leather products, furs, beadwork and more. Some of them also teach about the items they sell. Food vendors will have some traditional native foods available including fry bread and buffalo burgers. Dancing and drumming starts in the early afternoon.
“We hold a feast on Saturday,” said Grabhorn. Following dinner, there’s an evening session of drumming and dancing. That will wrap up by 10 p.m., and about a half hour later the day will culminate with a “Crazy Midnight Auction” to which vendors donate items. There will be more activities, including drumming and dancing on Sunday.
The White Buffalo Society was established in 1996. The non-profit group seeks to educate the public on all aspects of Native American culture.
“We try to do as much teaching as possible,” said Grabhorn. The group also tries to make their events friendly ones.
”We want people to know that there are Native Americans right in your community,” said Grabhorn, who is part Cherokee. “We want people to realize we’re people that are out there like anybody else.”
The White Buffalo Society meets the first Saturday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Forest Park Senior Citizens Center, 2517 W. Eighth St. in Muncie. For more information, contact Grabhorn at email@example.com or call 317-730-6972.
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If you go What: White Buffalo Society Annual Pow Wow When: Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21 Where: Summitville Community Center, 102 E. Walnut Street, Summitville Cost: $5 per person, kids under 12 free More info: www.whitebuffalosocietyofindiana.webs.com