Powwow brings tribal members together

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Singer-songwriter Brooke Simpson waits to perform at the 53rd annual spring Haliwa-Saponi Powwow in Hollister. Simpson finished third on NBC's 'The Voice’.


Staff Writer

Sunday, April 22, 2018

HOLLISTER — American Indian tribal members traveled from as far away as Virginia — and Los Angeles in the case of music sensation Brooke Simpson — to be a part of this weekend's annual Haliwa-Saponi Powwow, the largest and longest running such event in North Carolina.

The powwow, which continues today at noon, is the 53rd annual area event, held each year to celebrate the tribe’s recognition by the N.C. General Assembly in 1965.

Clad in traditional Saponi garb, Tatanka Gibson participated in the Eastern Woods Dance. He said he's from Richmond, Va., but is part of the tribe.

“I've been to every powwow here since I've been alive,” Gibson said. “I attend about 20 a year, but this one is special. It's good to come home.”

Enjoying a special homecoming of her own, Simpson, who placed third in this year's season of “The Voice,” performed at a soldout venue in California last week then jumped on a plane to make it back in time to sing a few songs for adoring fans at the powwow.

Simpson's father Mike Mills said Simpson wanted to come back and be with the tribal community during the powwow.

Beaming with pride, Mills was selling T-shirts and other merchandise adorned with his daughter's image. While it's the first year he's been at the powwow as a vendor, Mills has attended several of the events in prior years.

“It's beautiful this year,” Mills said. “In the past sometimes it's been hot and dusty and sometimes it's been raining. Today is perfect.”

The powwow is a homecoming — a way to get reacquainted — for tribal members who have remained in Hollister but haven't stayed in touch as well as members who have moved away. The main purpose of the powwow is to bring families together and educate people who aren't knowledgeable about the history and culture of the tribes, organizers said.

The powwow draws thousands of folks from across the state and beyond for a weekend filled with Native American singing, dancing, drum, art, crafts, food and other activities. The powwow includes several dance contests, a drum contest and an art contest.

Native American crafts are for sale including beads, bracelets, peace pipes, bone-handle knives, dreamcatchers, skins and furs, silversmiths and more.

Food trucks are offering Saponi stew, Indian tacos, collard sandwiches, catfish nuggets and gator bites along with more traditional event fair.

Today's the last day to get in on the action. Admission is free for children 6 years old and under. Tickets are $8 for people ages 7 to 61 and $7 for those over age 62. The powwow is held on tribal grounds behind the tribal school buildings at 130 Haliwa Saponi Trail in Hollister.