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American Indians share tribal customs at Mt. Juliet Pow Wow

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Mt. Juliet Pow Wow

When and where: Gates open for the 28th annual Mt. Juliet Pow Wow at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet.

Admission: Ages 13 and older, $7; ages 6-12, $4; ages 5 and younger, free.

Attractions: The event features American Indian music, dances, food and crafts.

More information: Call 443-1537 or go online to

The numbers: According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, as of July 1, 2007, was 4.5 million, or 1.5% of the total U.S. population.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the total American Indian population (alone or in any combination) in Tennessee is 39,188. The urban Indian population for Nashville is 9,619. The total American Indian population (alone and not in combination with another race) in Tennessee is 15,152 and in Wilson County is 288.

By KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson Post

Several hundred American Indians representing about a dozen tribes will pay respect to their heritage this weekend at the 28th annual Mt. Juliet Pow Wow.

And Coordinator Cindy Yahola of Lebanon is hoping that several thousand other Americans will plan to spend a day or two enjoying the festivities and learning more about early American peoples and their history.

“We’re going to have traditional singing, traditional dancing, Native-American arts and crafts and Native-American food,” said Yahola, who is enthused that Gov. Phil Bredesen has declared September to be Tennessee American Indian Heritage Month.

“This year we’ve got someone bringing out a white wolf and maybe a white buffalo calf. Coming from Cherokee, N.C., will be up and coming Southern rock-country music star Hoss Howard and his band High Octane, a group that has been performing across the United States and at the Country Music Association Festival this year. He entertains at 4 p.m. Saturday.”

Yahola is the daughter of the late Don Yahola who initiated the festival in 1981. Born in Wetumka, Okla., he was half Creek and educated at Castle Heights Military Academy where his mother was a teacher.

Cindy expects Native Americans from Canada and about eight states to participate, including members of the Chippewa, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Osage, Kiowa, Seminole, Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, Navaho and Narragansett tribes.

“People really love to watch the men’s fancy dance because it is real exciting and fast paced,” she said. “They do lots of tricks and fancy moves, jumps and flips while staying in time with the music. People also enjoy seeing the hoop dancers. There is one who dances with anywhere from 10 to 15 hoops and makes shapes with the hoops as he is dancing.”

More than $11,000 in prize money will be awarded to winners of a variety of drum and dance contests. Assisting Yahola with the pow wow will be emcee Rob Daugherty of Jay, Okla.; arena director Jimmy Reedy of McMinnville; head judge Candy Toehay of Anadarko, Okla.; and host drummers the Red Boys from Saskatchewan, Canada, who won last year’s drum contest.

Events begin at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, and there will be grand entries of all the dancers at noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday. (It is recommended that guests bring lawn chairs.) In previous years, from 5,000 to 7,000 spectators have enjoyed the exhibitions. On the menu for the pow wow will be such foods as Indian tacos, fry bread, buffalo burgers, roasted corn and turkey legs. Craftsmen will display and sell such items as drums, turtle rattles, pottery, jewelry, spears and bows and arrows.

In conjunction wit  

Southern country rocker Hoss Allen and his band High Octane performs at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mt. Juliet Pow Wow.


h Tennessee American Indian Heritage month, fourth-grade students at Mt. Juliet Elementary have been studying the lifestyle of early Americans. That included a presentation by Eric Wilcox who works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Eastern Region, in Nashville.

Wilcox, who has a daughter in fourth grade at the school, relocated to Wilson County in 2005 and is a member of the Narragansett tribe of Rhode Island. He and his daughter shared information about the various dwellings that their ancestors lived in.

“The common belief is that all Indians lived in teepees, and we (Narragansett's) lived in longhouses and wigwams, not teepees,” Wilcox said. “We also allowed the students to share some of our culture and see various crafts that my daughter and I have done.”

“We are learning about the early Americans and trying to focus on the early Tennesseans, like the Cherokee, Shawnee, Chickasaw and Creek that lived in Tennessee,” said Sheila Walker, who teaches fourth grade at Mt. Juliet Elementary. “We’re learning about where they got their food, clothing and shelter and the uses of the buffalo.


Eric Wilcox and his daughter Dakota recently shared information about the Narragansett tribe with Sheila Walker’s fourth-grade class at Mt. Juliet Elementary School.


“What was great about Mr. Wilcox was that he came in dressed in his deerskin outfit. Around his legs he had on something that jingled like bells, but it was deer toenails, and the kids loved that. He showed them a shield made from a large turtle and a tomahawk. The students read about this, but it is better if they visualize it,” she said.

Visualizati on is exactly what Cindy Yahola is aiming for with the pow wow.

“My goal is the same as my father’s when he started this years ago: To educate the public in Native-American history and culture and to help dispel the stereotypes that are out there of Native Americans,” Yahola said. “And we want to help people remember that Native Americans were indigenous to this area before the forced removal by President Andrew Jackson.”

Jackson and the federal government’s actions led to the Trail of Tears, part of which crossed through Wilson County along much of what is now Highway 70 through Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, as thousands of Indians in the southeastern United States were made to migrate to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in the 1830s.

“On Saturday we will hold our fifth annual Trail of Tears Walk beginning at 8 a.m. at the Cedar Ridge Church at Highway 109 and Highway 70,” Yahola said. “It will end about one mile away at Cook’s United Methodist Church, where we will have a memorial service and then breakfast.”

Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at

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