26-27 September 2015
Bell County Expo Center Belton, Texas
Music: Indian War Dance
Drums & Chants of Native American Indians
BY LARRY CAUSEY | TEMPLE TELEGRAM STAFF
BELTON — Young and old, many wearing feather headdresses and bustles, danced to the beat of drums Saturday during the 23rd annual Four Winds Intertribal Society Pow Wow in the Assembly Hall of the Bell County Expo Center. The powwow ends today, with events from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Previously held in Killeen, the powwow was moved to hopefully bring more exposure to Native American culture and heritage, said Ray Duncan, society chairman. “This is how we pass along our customs and traditions, by teaching our children,” he said.
The Four Winds covers Central Texas, he said, and has held educational programs from Waco to San Antonio. The powwow brought representatives from about 40 different Native American nations spread throughout Central Texas, he said. People also came from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. The dancers ranged from 3 years old to about 90, he said.
The Cherokee are the only Native American nation with a written language, he said. Most of the nations pass their cultural traditions and heritage through oral history. Dances are a big part of that, he said.
One of the group dances performed Saturday was a social dance, he said. Among the many other kinds of dances are the men’s traditional dances, which always tell a story, he said.
“Like a hunt or a war party, some experience they’ve had while being away from the village,” he said.
Songs also are important, he said. “We have different songs for different things.”
They have memorial songs in honor of those who have gone to a better life, he said. They have veterans’ songs which honor those who have fought to defend our country, he said.
“Then we have songs just because we’re happy, and we want to share the joy that we have in life every day,” he said.
There are 550 Native American groups recognized by the U.S. government, he said. They have contributed to all aspects of American life, including astronauts and statesmen, he said.
“We are a tenacious and persevering people as a whole,” he said. “The Native American has fought in every war this nation has taken part in,” he said. “The percentage of Native Americans who participate in the armed forces of the U.S. is a higher percentage than any other ethnicity.”