NCSSM will host 28th annual American Indian Powwow on Feb. 2

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) in Durham will host its 28th annual Powwow celebrating Native American Indian culture on Feb. 2, 2019, from noon until 5 p.m., in the school’s Charles R. Eilber Physical Education Center. This family-friendly event featuring music, dance, arts, crafts, and food is open to the public for a nominal admission fee of $5 (kids five and under attend free). American Indian dancers, musicians and artists from throughout the Carolinas and Virginia will headline the powwow as they reaffirm intertribal brotherhood and sisterhood and share with the larger community the rich history and contemporary aspirations of Native American people. Tribes regularly represented at the Powwow include Sappony, Haliwa-Saponi, Cherokee, Coharie, Meherrin, Lumbee, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation and Waccamaw-Siouan.

Powwows at NCSSM typically involve about 150 dancers and six drums. A Grand Entry of all dancers dressed in traditional and modern dance regalia will begin the event, followed by a Flag Song to honor both the American flag and the Eagle Staff, the traditional flag of Native American people. A Veteran’s Song honoring all those who have served in any branch of the U.S. military will follow. Intertribal and exhibition dances featuring different dance styles and categories will complete the dance session. Specialty dances like hoop dances, smoke dances, round dances, and two-steps are woven into the dance program, with audience participation encouraged by the Master of Ceremonies during some of the dances. Music will be provided by host drum Southern Sun, of the Lumbee/Intertribal of North Carolina.

The Powwow at NCSSM

NCSSM’s Powwow originated in 1992 with the school’s American Indian students as a way of promoting the school to the American Indian communities of North Carolina. Joe Liles, one of NCSSM’s founding faculty members (now retired) and a devoted supporter of Native American culture, helped the school’s Native students form Akwe:kon (“all of us together” in the Mohawk language) a support group for the Indian students on NCSSM’s campus. Liles coordinated the annual powwow alongside members of Akwe:kon until his retirement in 2008. Akwe:kon continues to support American Indian students at NCSSM and partners with the school’s Office of Admissions to host the powwow each year.

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