Pow-wow offers a glimpse into Tribes' cultures
May 12, 2012 (Menafn - The Miami Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --They came from tribes across North America: the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, the Hethuska Society in Oklahoma, the Samson Cree Nation from Canada, and Seminoles from Northern Florida. The occasion: the second annual Seminole Okalee Indian Village Pow-Wow, a three-day festival taking place at the Okalee Village at the Hard Rock.
With drums beating loudly, about 800 kids from schools throughout South Florida hopped up and down, mimicking the movements of the dancers in front of them.
"We are not just about the casinos," said Jennifer Osceola, general manager of the Seminole Okalee Indian Village. "Before the casinos came, it was the Okalee Indian Village. It's important that the non-Indians know the culture of the different tribes."
Osceola and her colleagues decided to bring back traditions like native arts and crafts, snake shows, alligator wrestling and pow-wow dances.
Since last year, they've been gathering hundreds of dancers from all over.
Amber Buffalo came from Minnesota and is a member of the Samson Cree Nation Tribe that originated in Alberta, Canada. She has been dancing for more than 25 years and enjoys showing her traditions.
"I'm very proud of everything that has to do with dancing and our culture. It's a very strong tradition that was taught to me and that now I teach my kids," said Buffalo.
During the wildlife and snake show, wildlife manager John Jones showed the kids alligators, a cottonmouth water moccasin, a black cobra, an owl and an American black vulture.
"I try to incorporate everything, from the creepy to the beautiful. My biggest thing is to educate people so they become more aware and care more about it," said Jones who has been working with animals for more than 20 years. "Everyone wants to see the alligator show, that's the big draw."
Austin, the 200-pound alligator, closed the wildlife and snake show and captured the attention of the kids.
Jones explained to the kids that alligator wrestling started as the way of Seminole tribe members to provide food for their families.
While he explained the history and the importance, Daniel Beck wrestled the alligator to demonstrate how the Native Americans caught and tied these animals.
"These educational shows are safer and calmer, but exciting for the kids," Beck said.
Venishia Smith, a 13-year-old from Florida Intercultural Academy in Davie was impressed with the show. "I liked how the guy was handling the alligator, I had never seen an alligator so close," said the seventh-grader. "This is a really cool place, it was fun and interesting."
The Pow-Wow will conclude Sunday with a special mother's day celebration. All mothers will have a free entrance to the pow-wow with one paid admission. They will have dance specials welcoming moms to dance with the Native Americans.
"It's important for people to learn our culture because of tolerance,'' said Jeannette Shambo from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. "It's important to let everyone know that we are still around and we still believe, and want to live our culture."
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