Heritage, culture and pride runs strong among the Coharie Tribe. For 47 years now, the Annual Cultural Pow Wow has been held as a way to celebrate and maintain Native American heritage.
The 47th annual Pow Wow celebration is scheduled for Sept. 9-10. This year’s Pow Wow will be host to various other events; such as a health fair, late night social dance, UNC American Indian Student Orientation, Warrior’s Memorial Ride and American Indian Bone Marrow Drive.
The Pow Wow will feature Native American dancing, the crowning of the newly selected Coharie princesses and braves, drumming and food, along with crafts, beautifully-crafted regalia, artwork and gospel singing.
Festivities are set to begin at 5:30 p.m on Friday at the Coharie Tribal Center, 7531 N US Hwy 421 Clinton. Grand entry will be on Friday at 7:25 p.m. On Saturday, the 5th annual Warriors Memorial Ride registration will begin at 8 a.m. Grand entry on Saturday will begin at 1 p.m. and again at 6:15 p.m.
The Warriors Memorial Ride is a way to honor veterans and military service personnel. The ride will begin at the Coharie Tribal Center and will leave promptly at 10 a.m. The riders will travel 88 miles through Sampson County. Following the ride, participants will have an opportunity to show off their motorcycles and enjoy lunch. The participating veterans and service personnel will be honored in the arena with a honor song. The general public is welcome to participate in this event. Simply go to www.coharietribe.org and click on Warrior’s Ride to download the registration form.
According to information provided by the Coharie Pow Wow Planning Chairperson, Bradley Brewington, the annual Cultural Pow Wow is the most important time of year for the Coharie Tribe. It is an opportunity for all Native American Indian people to celebrate the history of their ancestors. This opportunity allows the Coharie People to reunite and brainstorm on the growth and direction of future generations. It is also a time of sharing and education with the non-native community.
“It will be a time of cultural enrichment, fellowship and fun for everyone,” Brewington said. “The revitalization of our people and community is encouraging. Projects such as the Great Coharie River Initiative and the Coharie Community Gardens are organized to unify the Coharie People. We have seen an immense increase of youth and young adult participation among tribal affairs as well as community projects.”
According to Brewington, the dedication and overwhelming support of the community will make this years pow wow a great success. Corporate sponsors and individual families have pulled together to ensure that the Coharie Pow Wow is even more successful than years past. The tribal members and the pow wow planning committee, Brewington said, have planned and worked at the tribal grounds in an effort to organize the cultural event and enhance the grounds.
“We are extremely blessed to have such an outpouring of support,” Brewington shared. The event coordinator encourages more tribal members, youth and young adults to get involved and participate in the cultural events.
While a Pow Wow may seem like entertainment to an outsider, the grounds and ceremonies are all sacred events, blessed by the chief prior to the beginning of the ceremony. The Coharie Tribe recently elected a new chief, Wilbert Ammons, who will be participating in the September event.
As a way to honor the tribe’s traditions and the sacredness of the ceremony, Brewington says there should be no drugs, alcohol, profanity or boisterous behavior on the tribal grounds. The Coharie Pow Wows began in 1969 under the leadership of James D. “Dob” Brewington, who was chief at the time.
Each dance session begins with a grand entry, a procession of honor guard, head dancers, royalty and dancers. The flag bearers also known as the Honor Guards, lead the procession carrying the eagle staff, American flag, and frequently, the POW/MIA flag.
Being a flag bearer is an honor usually given to a veteran, a respected traditional dancer, or an elder. Indian royalty are next, consisting of tribal and organizational princesses, braves and other dignitaries (tribal chiefs and tribal elders).
The head dancers lead a single file procession of dancers arranged by dance category and age. As a sign of respect, everyone is asked to stand during the grand entry and men should remove their head coverings.
Today’s Coharie Tribe is located in the southeastern region of the state, including Sampson, Harnett and Cumberland counties. Members of the Coharie Tribe are descendants of the Neusiok Indians. Presently, there are more than 3,000 members of the tribe.
For more information regarding the 2016 Cultural Pow Wow call 910 564-6909 or www.coharietribe.org. For registration information for the Memorial Ride contact Vinnie Bryant at 910 337-3951 or by email at [email protected]
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.