Native American culture shared at Pow Wow
At Millstone Landing in Hardeeville the usual sounds are of running water, birds, and leaves rustling. But last weekend it was filled with music, drumming, and the sounds of food cooking for the annual Low Country Pow Wow and Cultural Festival.
The Landing was lined with vendors where dream catchers, walking sticks, and dance feathers were displayed. Music from bird whistles, and drums could be heard in the background by the dance pit. Native Americans in ceremonial and every day dress mixed with spectators filled the area.
The Pow Wow, led by chairman Mike Benton, brought together Native Americans from tribes across the Lowcountry, Hardeeville residents, and the local schools to celebrate the culture of the Native American communities. The Pow Wow featured ceremonial dances, clothing, crafts, and foods that have been preserved and passed down for generations.
Among the many tribes featured were those from Edisto, Pee Dee, Cherokee, Yemassee, and Waccamaw. The tribes connect through Pow Wows in the region and on Facebook.
“This Pow Wow starts off this area’s season of Pow Wows. They go throughout the year, just about every weekend of the year. It starts — what they call — the Pow Wow trail in this area,” Benton said.
The Pow Wow celebrated its 17th year in the Lowcountry - each at Millstone Landing.
“This land is right on the water. Traditionally, at one point, the Yemassees lived on this river,” said Benton, about the Landing. “The mounds on the Georgia side of the refuge here, for Native Americans it’s a very spiritual grounds.”
It’s grown tremendously over the years. Benton said vendors have increased from about eight to 30, and 15 to 80 dancers. On Saturday, about 200 spectators came out to see the dances and celebrate.
The event featured unique opportunities for spectators. The Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School band’s African drums music class performed and invited the crowd to play the drums with them. Dancers invited people to dance.
While the vendors sold unique crafts and knick-knacks, the food stole the show.
The Pow Wow sold traditional Indian foods and by far the most popular was fry bread.
Fry bread is a mixture of cornmeal, flour, and milk that is then deep fried.
According to Navajo tradition, it originated when they were removed from their native lands and forced onto reservation camps.
At the camps they were unable to hunt because it was against the federal law.
The government provided them with some basic commodities, including flour, milk and cornmeal.
Fry bread was made as an everyday food to prevent starvation.
The bread is still made and used to complement almost any dish.
Think of fry bread like a biscuit: it goes with every meal.
At the Pow Wow, fry bread was served as a desert with toppings like honey, powdered sugar, and cinnamon - like a funnel cake.
Fry bread was used for the classic “Indian Taco” where the bread was topped with taco ingredients.
And hot dogs were wrapped in the dough and served as “Indian Dogs.”
“It (the Pow Wow) shows people, especially in South Carolina, that Native Americans are not gone — we’re still here,” Benton said.
“They may look a little different than western Indians, but they are no less native.”