, Salem, MA


July 18, 2013

Drumming, dancing highlight powwow at Endicott Park


Shared, intertribal dancing is a unique feature of Eastern powwows, Fox Tree said.

“In other parts of the country, where there are huge nations, they have stricter rules,” she said. “These are open and social.”

In addition to performances, there will be several demonstrations, including the raising of a tipi, which visitors will be invited to enter.

Kerri Helme, a Mashpee Wampanoag, will spend the day making a cooking pot, using clay she gathered from a cliff on a beach in Manomet.

“I sift it with a sifting basket I wove from cedar bark, to get out all the impurities, like wood and bigger stones,” she said. “Then, I add the temper — crushed shell — and add water moisture back in and build up the pot in the coil method.”

The temper distributes heat and keeps the pot from exploding when it is fired in a pit with burning brush, after drying in the sun for several months.

“People will stream in while I’m working, so I explain the process, the history behind it, and the tools I’m using,” said Helme, who supervises the Wampanoag program at Plimoth Plantation.

The number of powwows is steadily increasing, and Helme attends one almost every weekend during the summer, she said.

“Non-native people are developing more of an interest in it,” she said. “Our traditional way is encouraged now in our generation, where it may not have been the case with our grandparents.”

Fox Tree has a master’s degree in education and will host a workshop focusing on how Native Americans are depicted in language.

“I have words printed on laminated cards,” she said. “There are problematic words relating to the culture, and things that are not problematic, that we’re proud of. Third, there are names we’re called.”

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