Archive for the ‘Spruce Pines’ category

Pow-Wow in Spruce Pines

September 15, 2010

Last Saturday I went to the town of Spruce Pines in the mountains to shoot for class.  The Blue Ridge Intertribal Council was holding a pow-wow from the 10th to the 12th.  There was significant focus on military veterans during the entire event on September 11th.  A considerable amount of veterans were in attendance.  One man, a veteran of the Nicaraguan Drug War, was wearing face paint in the traditional colors of Cherokee warriors (red and black).  Mabel Benjamin, the founder of the Blue and organizer for the pow-wow, told me of the long history of Native American involvement in US wars.  I thought it was ironic, given the many instances of deceit and harm the government has brought upon them, but Mabel explained many natives were not fighting for the US government but instead fighting to defend their birth land from foreign invaders.  Others were fighting to earn recognition of their fellow tribes as US citizens.

A veteran of the Nicaraguan drug war wearing the traditional colors associated with Cherokee warriors.

Towards the evening there was a dance and a ceremony honoring the veterans.  A prayer was given in Cherokee and the veterans given the privilege to dance first.  Clouds descended on the site, creating a particularly thick fog which heightened the significance of the event.  The regalia worn by the performers was very diverse, each having their own history and meaning.  The eye-catching and flamboyant regalia decorated with numerous feathers reflected the period before the mass displacement of natives at the hands of the US military (the Trail of Tears, for example) while later styles were more somber and restrained.

Native American war veterans were given special recognition at the pow-wow

The interior of a 14-ft. Lakota Sioux tipi from the 1890s with items authentic to the period.

The women wore more modest regalia and danced slower to the beat.  This reflects the dignity and high values culturally expected of many Native American women.

The regalia worn after the mass displacement of Native Americans is more somber and restrained.

For more information about the Blue Ridge Intertribal Council and future hosted pow-wows, visit their website at