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Powwow celebrates 125th anniversary

By Hillary Akers
Around the Town Editor

April 26, 2012

Photo by Hillary Akers
Miss Indian North Carolina Layla Locklear dances as a part of the Southern Women's Traditional group.
Faculty, staff, students and community members gathered on April 19 at the 125th Anniversary Celebration Powwow, in the English E. Jones P.E. building.

The powwow was sponsored by the Native American Resource Center, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Native American Student Society.

The celebration, which included dancing, singing, music, food and speaking about Native history, opened to the public at 4 p.m. and had a grand entry of dancers at 5 p.m.

Several different groups including women's and men's Southern traditional groups and young men and women dance groups preformed Native American dances. The groups preformed several times during the celebration.

The dancers were dressed in Native regalia, including many colors, feathers, bells, elaborate head dresses, jewelry and other decorations. The groups danced in the center of a large circle of chairs as tribe members played a drum and sang.

Reggie Brewer Jr., the Cultural Youth Service director of the Boys and Girls Club, introduced each group of dancers and spoke to the audience about the Native American culture and symbolism about the dancers' regalia.

The purpose of the powwow was to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the university, Brewer said. He said it is important to remind people of how the school began and how it has grown.

Becky Goins, who helped in organizing the celebration, said the idea of this powwow in particular was to continue in the vein of the university's celebration of its 125th anniversary and look back at how the celebration used to be.

Students attend

The powwow in recent years had been held on the weekend, Goins said, but for this anniversary celebration, they did it the way it was done many years ago, during the week so that the students could attend and be involved.

"We hope you learn something," Goins said to the students in attendance. "We hope you take away an understanding and a new pride for the history of this university."

Talia Mattocks, a freshman, said she had never been to a powwow before and wanted to experience it. "I like their outfits the most," Mattocks said.

Wendy Ross, a sophomore, also said it was her first time at a powwow. She said it was very interesting to see the Native dancing and outfits.

Malarie Langrehr, a graduate student, attended the celebration as part of an assignment for her Multi-cultural and Social Justice Counseling class. She chose to use the powwow as the basis of a project she was doing, taking notes and pictures throughout the event.

"I've never experienced anything like this before," Langrehr said. "My favorite part is the energy. Everyone looks happy and excited to be here."

She said it was her first time attending a powwow. "You can't be in Robeson County and not go to a pow-wow."

Day two

Miss Indian North Carolina Layla Locklear, a 19-year-old sophomore, said she had been involved in powwow's for about four years.

"It's our culture. It's who we are," she said.

Native traditions

The powwow brings us together, and it is a place for us to fellowship with old friends and meet new ones, Locklear said. "It's important to keep our heritage alive," she said.

Lockear was a part of the Women's Southern Traditional Dance group. "It is the dance of our mothers and grandmothers," she said. "It is a very graceful dance, and it is among the most respected dances."

She said that the different dances and groups used their movements and clothing to tell stories.

The Men's Grass Dance group performed a plains dance, she said. In the plains dance, the clothing has ribbons flowing on the edges, which represents the grass in the plains that flows.

Jr. Miss Lumbee Alaina Malcolm, a 13-year-old in seventh grade at Pembroke Middle School, also danced in the Women's Traditional Dance group. The dancers' clothing represented them, she said.

"The colors on my clothes and the sunflowers sown on represent me," she said. "My fan was made by one of my great friends who was also my Mr. Lumbee."

Several tables were set up around the room with Native jewelry, music and groups.

Mardella Sunshine Lowery, a 72-year-old legend teller, was selling Native-made jewelry, dream catchers, herbs and other Native products.

Sigma Omicron Epsilon Inc., the Native American Sorority, also had a table set up with information about the history of its group and its members.

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