Song and story herald our region's sacred indigenous lineage, which is often marginalized by those who would rather forget the devastation colonization unleashed upon many peoples. Native Americans gather to tell their story, the story of their mothers and fathers, so their children know who they are.
The 18th annual Low Country Pow Wow & Cultural Festival from March 10-11 brings together many indigenous nations to celebrate family, food and cultural awareness.
Started by Mike Benton in 2000, this year's event will feature new dancers and new vendors as well.
Sabrina Schaner, co-organizer, said the Pow Wow showcases the importance of indigenous heritage in our area and communicates they are still here, while also educating guests about their culture.
"Although there will be new things, the Pow Wow itself is special to see," she said. "Since the beginning, the Low Country Pow Wow has grown and matured into something for everyone to enjoy and become a learning experience for everyone."
The Low Country Pow Wow offers a variety of experiences for newcomers.
"When you first walk through the gates you have to realize that everything is a learning experience," said Schaner. "We have storytellers that can tell you the different stories passed down from generations. The vendors have an array of items and they're mostly handmade. Last but not least, the arena is the place to be for a major educational adventure. Inside the arena we have Natives from all over the U.S. all representing their tribes and telling a story through their dance styles and regalia. The one thing someone can know about our regalia is that nothing on it is without meaning."
The Pow Wow celebrates a huge gathering of nations. They celebrate and share their culture with the public. In addition to this, indigenous crafts such as books, jewelry, salves, leathers and clothing are offered from vendors.
Attendees can witness inter-tribal dances and Native American music. While most dances reflect the nation's people and traditional regalia, Schaner said they also want to include the public. Several of the dances will be open for the public to participate. One of the favorites is the children's candy dance, where children perform for a sweet reward.
Sabrina Schaner's daughter Amber Schaner, who has Abenaki heritage, spoke about the opportunities to help educate the public about her lineage. She said people often assume first she is Hispanic, and don't think she is Native American.
"Schools don't teach people the knowledge of our people," Amber said, "So who better to teach the crowd our culture/ heritage then us Native Americans? At least this way we can teach them right because there is a lot of incorrect information out there."
Amber said she loves the food she is always amazed no matter how many times she eats it.
"Attendees have the opportunity to experience homemade foods such as delicious Indian tacos," she said, "or homemade fry bread. They can try the amazing REZ juices that even have real fruit in them."
The Low Country Pow Wow is not just a celebration to her, but also a homecoming.
"This Pow Wow is like a second home to me and I can always reconnect with loved ones that I haven't seen in a while," she said. "The Pow Wow allows me to be able to dance and celebrate my heritage with loved ones and just have fun."