By Justin Cord Hayes, Staff writer
There are less than 1,000 Nanticoke Indians left in this country,
according to tribal leader Chief Kenneth "Red Deer" Clark,
and most are within 120 miles of the site at which the 22nd Annual
Nanticoke Indian Powwow is being celebrated.
is why the event is so rife with bittersweet moments.
just as the powwow began, when the inaugural dance was heralded by
the pledge of allegiance.
seem odd that we begin with the pledge of allegiance," said Charles
C. Clark IV, Chief Clark's son and the tribe's assistant chief.
because we lost everything from sea to shining sea, we love this land
and many of our people have served this country."
of the baser events of American history were as frequent Saturday
as were festive dances.
said the powwow has always been, to some extent, about settling conflicts.
times of trouble, they allowed the tribes to determine how best to
fight their enemies, and they were a way of planning for the future."
for the future meant assimilation into the European population.
want the same things as all kids - to have MTV and all the latest
clothes," said Asst. Chief Clark.
carry the additional burden of continuing their culture. It could
all be lost with the carelessness of just one generation."
a Cherokee from Lynchburg, Va., does her part to insure that American
Indian culture remains visible.
She and her
husband attend powwows like the one in Millsboro throughout the eastern
They sell traditional
ribbon shirts as well as bumper stickers bearing legends such as,
"Sure you can trust the government, just ask an Indian,"
as well as books like James W. Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told
Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong."
as we know it today resulted from the suppression of the dancing that
Indians performed in their daily lives," said Ms. Durham.
the powwow is an effort to show the public that our culture is still
She added that,
in her opinion, there are deliberate efforts to keep American Indians
Indian events go unreported," said Ms. Durham, "but then,
the dominant society cares mostly about the dominant society."
society" was even evident in such mundane matters as what was
available for the crowd to eat.
Fry bread and
Indian tacos competed with "all American" favorites like
hot dogs and Sno Kones, and the fry bread was actually pizza dough.
of the bulk and the crowds, we have to use pizza dough from Grotto's
and can't make it the traditional way," said Nanticoke tribe
member Sandra Norwood.
bread aside, the Nanticoke Indian Powwow does its best to preserve
the tribe's traditions.
Clark believes that such events can help narrow the gap between Natives
That gap, he
reminded the crowd, is what led to the mutual antagonism that once
characterized the two groups.
they didn't understand, they tried to rub out," said Asst. Chief
Clark, "but we're still here.
you go, you're walking the shadows of Native Americans."