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Appreciating Native arts and culture

  • The 20th annual Mt. Kearsarge Indian museum Pow Wow saw an attendance of 2,500 participants and spectators the weekend of July 13 to 14. All New England states, Nova Scotia and New York were represented. —Courtesy of Robert Heslop

  • Four-year-old Quill Bullock dances with his father, Thomas, at the 20th annual Pow Wow held July 13 and 14 at the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner. Courtesy of Robert Heslop

  • Dancers in their regalia perform at the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner during the annual Pow Wow. —Courtesy of Sol Solomon

  • Dancers in their regalia perform at the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner during the annual Pow Wow. Courtesy of Sol Solomon

For the Monitor
Published: 7/19/2019 11:30:25 AM
Modified: 7/19/2019 11:30:12 AM

One of the many jewels of the Mt. Kearsarge and Lake Sunapee region is the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner. This past weekend the museum hosted its 20th annual Pow Wow, a social gathering of tribes to celebrate their common traditions through song and dance.

I’ve been bringing my granddaughter Eliza there since she was two years old. That Pow Wow, five years ago, was the first for both of us. We sat entranced in the summer sun for hours, marveling at the singing, drumming, and spectacular regalia (the respectful term for the hand-made costumes) of the dancers.

This year we were treated to more singers and dancers than ever before. Tribes gathered from all over New England. There were dances by women, by men, and by couples. Adults, seniors, and children joined in. Each dancer sported unique regalia. The intricate array of feathers, beads, bells, and colored leather and cloth was breathtaking. I felt transported to another era.

Throughout the proceedings, we learned from the master of ceremonies about the Native American traditions of acceptance and respect that honor the Earth and all its beings. We were reminded that we are all connected, we are all responsible for each other and the Earth that supports us. I was also reminded of the social tolerance ingrained in their culture, which has long recognized that humans have five genders. What a marvelous model of gender equality!

The sense of communion among the performers and audience was palpable. There were several dances during which the audience was invited to participate. One performance was different from the others. A young man, wearing a baseball cap and dressed in non-native garb, was handed the microphone to sing a solo.

He sang unaccompanied by drumming, his voice gradually gaining confidence and depth. The crowd became more attentive the longer he sang. Then a dancer got up and moved to the music, and others followed. By the time the young man was done, the audience was rapt with attention, understanding something special had happened. Everyone erupted into the loudest ovation of the day.

The Pow Wow reminded me how much we have to learn from our Native American brothers and sisters. As a Caucasian with family roots in Greece, at times I felt like an intruder. The families of these dancers have roots going back thousands of years, and I am part of a race that violently appropriated their land and tried to destroy their culture. With Jewish family roots as well, I am sensitive to the evil of genocide.

The Pow Wow’s message of inclusiveness and tolerance is needed now more than ever. The 21st annual Pow Wow is a year away, but no need to wait. If you’ve not been to the museum, you are missing a special experience. It’s open through the summer, with guided tours from noon to 3 p.m., daily.

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