By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
With the air full of the scent of campfire smoke and the pounding of drums, Anderson Powwow participants of all ages danced to Native American songs — some in Native American clothing, like young Cohen Morgan, and others simply jumping up and down in their street clothes.
Cohen, 5, had just as much fun digging for arrowheads in the artists’ tent, where vendors sold items and children could make cuff bracelets or participate in other crafts. His grandmother, Carolyn Morgan, said all of her grandchildren are involved in Native American events and “love it.”
“We go to all the powwows around the state” to celebrate their Cherokee heritage, she said.
Morgan, who lives in Chesterfield, said the Andersontown Powwow provides a great chance to “rendezvous” and discover Anderson’s Native American heritage. The Powwow is at Athletic Park, along the White River near the site of the original Delaware Indian settlement of Kiktha WeNund, also known as Chief Anderson.
Bill Carter of Anderson has brought his grandson and granddaughter to the Andersontown Powwow two or three times now. He said there’s always plenty to do and that the Native American demonstrators are very friendly and informative.
Even without any Native American heritage themselves, the family likes to experience the traditions and enjoy the cuisine. Grandson Carter McGrady’s favorite attraction was the tomahawk throw because he “can’t throw one at home.”
“It’s something everyone (in Anderson) should come to at least once in their life to experience,” Carter said.
Michael Pace said members of his Delaware tribe return to Anderson from Oklahoma to share their culture because “the history here is so extensive.” Chief Anderson, he said, was considered the “first among equals” in the Delaware and spoke for the rest of the tribe.
Pace said he wants Andersontown Powwow visitors to “just have a good time” as they experience the culture. It’s an event for the family to not only “watch but also take part in,” he said.
“It’s really become a well-known powwow,” said organizer Debbie Webb. “I think it’s because it’s a spectator powwow.”
Visitors don’t just watch the dances — they can join in. And while there are plenty of speakers sharing history and culture, there are events like the tomahawk throw, multiple children’s activities in the artists’ tent and food to sample.
Celebrating 10 years, the powwow, Webb said, has focused on adding vendors and more artists. But also the event also attracted Norris Chee for the “Navajo Code Talkers” for the first time this year.
Last year, about 4,000 people from 15 different states — including as far away as Oregon and North Carolina — came to the powwow, Webb said. And this year, she expects more as it seems to grow every year.
“There’s lots to do,” she said, and it all “adds up to the perfect ingredients for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.”
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