Just like a family gathering, the Low Country Pow Wow and Cultural Festival extends its title of family to those who are curious by sharing their values.
Pow wow means a gathering, said Alex Schaner, who is Abenaki, and also the husband of organizer Sabrina Schaner, who is Seminole.
Schaner said indigenous is a better word to describe Native American people because it is a way to ask someone their heritage respectfully. The event, set for March 11-12 in Hardeeville, is an opportunity to experience food and dances while learning about the different groups that attend the inter-tribal pow wow. In other words, it is a gathering of many people from many nations.
Schaner spoke about the values of the people who attend and gather to share their ways.
“Our storytellers have incredible memories for words. They can tell a story exactly using the same sounds as it was told over 1,000 years ago,” he said, adding that being able to hear the exact story, in the manner it was told originally, gives power to the words.
“People think a gun is powerful. We think of a thunderstorm as true power. A flooding river is true power. No matter what we do, we cannot stop a thunderstorm or a flooding river,” Schaner said.
The foundation of the pow wow is set around the blessed grounds, also known as the arena, but more commonly called the circle. Schaner spoke about the importance of the circle.
“We set it up to match the rising sun, and the sun also sets on the circle. We have dances to honor our ancestors, and one of my favorite dances is the candy dance.”
That dance is one for children, where they enter the circle and dance, and then chase after candy and sweets the elders throw in the air for them.
Sabrina Schaner also spoke about the importance of the circle, which is set up to enter and traverse clockwise to exit.
“The circle is the center of the pow wow. All of the other vendors and tents are set up outside of the circle,” she said.
She added that this is the 17th year for the pow wow, and she is passionate about sharing family values at the event.
“Once you are with us, you are family to us,” she said. Schaner said she and founder Mike Benton spend an entire year working to make each pow wow better.
Benton said they want to increase awareness by “showing the world the interesting and fascinating culture and traditions and to dispel a lot of misinformation out there.”
“Most native people on the East Coast may not look like those in the movies and out west … We have lots of people that have native ancestry but were not raised in the culture,” he said.
IF YOU GO
What: Low Country Pow Wow and Cultural Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 11-12
Where: Millstone Landing, 55 Millstone Landing Road, Hardeeville, S.C. (Exit 5, follow signs)
Cost: $7; $5 students/seniors; free for ages 5 and younger; two-day passes are $10 for adults and $8 for students/seniors