When two bald eagles that nest along the Maumee River flew over, it was a good sign of the spiritual support for the Woodland Tribes powwow. The theme for this powwow was “They Walked Here before Us: A Woodland Indian Celebration.” This powwow is a regular event at Buttonwood Park in Perrysburg, OH.
The weather was perfect, with bright sun, light breezes to cool the dancers, and a clear sky to see the eagles and vultures circling in the distance above the Maumee River. The name of the river was derived from the Ottawa Indians spelling of their tribal name of Maamii. The entrance to Buttonwood Park is a path that goes by a huge tree and across a small creek into the field that makes up the performance area for the powwow.
Because there were a number of different tribes represented, there was a huge variety in the costumes, dance steps, and drumming. There was an invitation for attendees to learn the dance steps and to participate in the activities. There were many vendors of Native American crafts, with flutes, animal skins, sacred sage and sweet grass, and dream catchers.
Many of the dancers had made their costumers, which included elaborate bead work that took months to make. The feathered headdresses included wild turkey feathers, and intricate designs that looked like birds flying when dancers performed around the circle. Some of the headdresses were unique to anything commonly worn, which reflected the woodland tribes as opposed to those of the prairie tribes of the west.
Douglas Blue Feather and Danny Vorys were the featured performers Saturday afternoon. Douglas continues to win awards for his Native American flute music. Danny is a highly accomplished guitarist. The concert included music from Douglas’ new CD called Flute Music, as well as earlier CD’s like Rolling Thunder. Danny has several albums on his own, and Douglas and Danny did a couple of songs each as solo performers.
For a festival that lasts all day, the food is an important part of the powwow. The vendors provided combinations of traditional Native American fare such as fry bread, with this version having a rich sauce and vegetables. There were plenty of water and cold soft drinks, which was a blessing to the dancers and to the audience that sat in the sun to watch the performers.
These powwows are sacred events, and the attendees followed the etiquette that might be found in any other religious or spiritual setting. The grounds were clean. The audience listened with respect. Those taking photographs asked the subjects for their approval. This powwow captured the spirit of celebrating Native American traditions, and provided a great early autumn experience on a beautiful day.