THE ART OF THE DANCE: Inter-tribal powwow draws several hundred dancers, onlookers

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Sep. 3—A night of culture, ceremony and competition kicked off the Cherokee National Holiday with the Inter-Tribal Powwow Sept. 2, as dancing and music greeted crowds of onlookers.

The powwow was held at the Cherokee Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah. Leading the proceedings as Head Man and Woman were Osage Nation citizen Russ Tallchief and Pawnee Nation citizen Maggie Cunningham.

Following a grand entry at 7 p.m., competitions began for several different age groups: older adults, men, women, teens, juniors and "tiny tots."

Dancers moved in a variety of styles to beats, drummed out by Rough Arrow and Medicine Tail drum circles, from Shawnee, and Flomaton, Alabama, respectively. Assisting were the Park Hill singers from Tahlequah, and Blackbird Singers from Shawnee.

Crowds watched from stands and folding chairs as each competitor group was called to the grounds to perform. Depending on the dance style, regalia differed. Jingle dresses decorated with rows of metal cones clinked as dancers moved around the arena while those dressed in fancy shawls extended their arms, spun and swirled their long fringes.

Tahlequah resident Becky Adair brought her sons Miles and Jakobe Adair-Coon to the powwow Friday night.

"Just being able to take my kids out and enjoy cultural activities is nice," said Adair.

Adair said her sons are both Cherokee Nation citizens and she is United Keetoowah Band.

"But the culture is the same," she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Adair said, she is glad to see people out at events like this.

"The culture is alive again," she said. "It's good to see everyone."

Jakobe shared how he felt being at the powwow.

"I kinda like it — being here for my tribe," said Jakobi.

Adair chimed in.

"And he likes the corn dogs," she said.

Jakobe agreed.

"Anything food related, I'm down for," he said.

Miles also said he was having fun.