Venue to showcase Native American Spirit
The thrum of drums and the thrill of Native American dance and culture will showcase this year's 35th annual Mt. Juliet Pow Wow held at Mundy Memorial Park Sept. 24 and 25.
About 90 Native American tribes will be represented at the popular event hosted by Lebanon resident Cindy Yahola. Each year she continues the Pow Wow in honor of her father, Don Yahola, who died at age 69. Yahola promised her father at his deathbed to keep the legacy alive.
Yahola is of the Mesquite Creek tribe and remarked how the Pow Wow has grown into a much-anticipated Mt. Juliet tradition. Tennessee has declared September "American Indian Heritage Month."
There will be two days of intense, colorful and simply thrilling-to-watch dance competitions, authentic Native American food and dozens of booths filled with Native American crafts.
Roasted corn, Indian tacos, fry bread, walleye dinner plates and buffalo burgers will beckon those who wish tasty food - prepared the authentic way.
Along with the food booths, attendees can browse craft booths that showcase handmade sterling and turquoise jewelry, Native American music for sale, clothing and a wide variety of paintings, among tons of other crafts.
"This year Paul DeLuna is specially painting, as we speak, a special piece we will raffle as a fund-raiser," Yahola said.
DeLuna will also donate to Yahola Pow Wow shirts he designed for sale.
Yahola is praying for good weather and the forecasters have let to reveal what's in store for the all-outdoor venue. Last year they got a lot of rain, and several years ago, the Pow Wow was shut down completely on its Saturday event because of tornado threats and drenching rains.
With fingers crossed, Yahola urges all to come out and experience her culture. It's an event that draws up to 7,000 people annually from all over.
"On lady called up to specifically ask directions," Yahola said. "She's coming from North Carolina."
The highlights of the Pow Wow are all the different dancers who come from as far away as Oklahoma, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama to compete for a total purse of $11,000 split among winners.
Members of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota and Creek, among many others will begin each day parading into the show-ring, each sporting their tribal dress and displaying individual dance moves. Seven drummers will create the rhythmic music and will sing in their Native tongue while the dancers vie for cash prizes.
Men and women compete in differently styles of dance. The men dance traditional, fancy, grass and southern-straight styles. The woman will perform buckskin, cloth, fancy shawl and jingles. Children will also compete in the same styles of dance.
This year's treat will be Native American hoop dancer Lowery Begay's special performance where he dances with the hoops and creates aerial designs.
"It's going to be great," Yahola said. "It's a good way to share our culture with non-Native people. It's a perfect educational tool to share our culture and heritage. People just love it and come to Mt. Juliet from everywhere."
An additional bonus will be a competition between seven drum groups. They sing in their Native tongue and thrum handmade, gigantic drums. Yahola has also lined up an Aztec Dancer performance, as well as a dance special featuring the Prairie Chicken Dance.
"It's just my favorite dance," Yahola said. "It's just so cool."
Throughout the two days Ryan Little Eagle will play the Indian flute in between the competitions. He's nominated for a Native American music award.
Yahola's own daughter, Aspen, 11, will perform much to her mom's delight. Aspen has danced in several big-time shows and her specialty is fancy shawl.
"I know my dad would be tickled to death and just so proud of his granddaughter dancing at a Pow Wow he founded 35 years ago," noted Yahola.
With a wish for great weather, Yahola hopes everyone is excited about this year's Pow Wow.
"And will come out and learn about Native Americans and that we are not the stereotype you see on television," she said. "Some people think we are extinct. We aren't."
The Pow Wow on Saturday, Sept. 24-25, starts at 10:30 a.m. It closes at 9 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission ages 12 and up $8, ages 6-11 $4, and 5 and under free.
Mundy Memorial Park is located off Belinda Parkway in south Mt. Juliet.
Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.