Yesterday, it was time to discover yet another new event in Austin, so we headed out for the 21st Annual Austin Powwow.
I love powwows…we used to go to the Native American Pow-Wow every year on City Island near Harrisburg, PA. when we lived there. And we always tried to go to gatherings in Florida and in the Rockies, too.
The music, dancing and the clothing are my favorite parts, so I was thrilled to see that Austin’s Powwow was focused around those elements. The auditorium at Sunset Valley was filled with drummers, singers and dancers in dramatic traditional apparel. As each dance was called, the music changed, the drum beat shifted, and a new group of dancers took center stage.
Unlike many “shows” which focus on providing cultural demonstrations for visitors, this was clearly a gathering for members of the local and regional tribes. Those of us who were not identifiably Native Americans were there as guests, not spectators. And that gave the whole event a different feel than more commercial, touristy “Indian events” — and one that I appreciated.
At one point, guests were invited to join in a dance, and most seemed to really enjoy the chance to be a part of the celebration. Kids, especially little ones, loved this!
Outside, the celebration continued, with stands selling handmade flutes, beautiful drums and herbs used in healing. Yes, there were stands offering nearly identical jewelry, but the authentic craftspeople at other stands made it worth walking around, asking questions and shopping.
There were also stands offering educational information about tribal history and customs. We spent quite a bit of time at the Chickasaw table, learning about their history, stories and their new Oklahoma Chickasaw Cultural Center. A future road trip, maybe?
Admission and parking were free, which makes this a great choice for families with kids. It also leaves more cash for lunch or shopping — another big plus in my book! Pets are not permitted at the festival.
I just want to leave you with a few more images from the Festival…not my usual format, but I can’t resist.