Native American pow-wow in Montague offers cultural exposure

  • Representatives from at least 10 tribes celebrated Native American heritage and culture during a weekend pow-wow at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Representatives from at least 10 tribes celebrated Native American heritage and culture during a weekend pow-wow at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Organizer Mary “Yellow Bird” Chaffee displays a hand-beaded leather belt and a headdress owned by Red Elk, chief of the clan of the Turtle Overhill Cherokee, during a weekend pow-wow at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Crafter “J” Lynn Morkavage, who has been collaborating with Orange-based Creative Crafters, puts a rose handmade from seashells out for sale during a weekend pow-wow at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 8/14/2022 5:10:30 PM
Modified: 8/14/2022 5:07:04 PM

MONTAGUE — Despite missing their drum group, participants in the “Dancing with the Spirits” pow-wow celebrated Indigenous culture through the spirit of sharing.

The pow-wow, a sacred and traditional Native American gathering, was held at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to organizer Mary “Yellow Bird” Chaffee, representatives from at least 10 tribes attended as musicians, vendors and cultural leaders. While drumming is typically the “heartbeat” of the celebration, she said the event’s anticipated New York-based drum group hadn’t arrived and had not been reachable since Friday evening.

“We’re making due with what we can,” said Chaffee, who added that while she was stressed and disappointed, she was determined to maintain a good attitude.

“Pow-wow is a gathering of people and we like to make it happy,” vendor Carole Green said.

The last local pow-wow, Chaffee said, took place in Wendell around a decade ago. Since then, pow-wow participants have traveled expansively in an effort to bring joy to those in attendance who are both Native and non-Native in heritage.

“It’s like a big happy family because it’s all different people from different walks of life,” Green said.

Green, who has tribal ancestry, argued that blood should not exclude those who look to immerse themselves in Native American culture. Rather, she said, “it’s all about what’s in the heart.”

“I was raised to believe that we are all Native American in our heart because we are here,” said Pittsfield resident Dee Gardiner, a vendor of 20 years who attended the pow-wow as a way of growing more in-tune with her Indigenous heritage.

Crafter “J” Lynn Morkavage said selling her handmade wares takes on added significance being in such a culturally enriching atmosphere.

“It feels good to have my crafts here where the energy is richer,” she said.

Silent Wisdom, of the Cherokee tribe, said bringing rich tribal culture to the forefront with a pow-wow combats ignorance held by non-tribal peoples not only regionally, but nationally.

“It’s all over that they don’t get exposed to this culture,” she said.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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