Setting Up the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow

MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow

Pow-wow grounds before people start arriving.

When I first started attending the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) pow-wows, I had no idea what went on behind the scenes. I just knew that I enjoyed every aspect of being at the pow-wow including being among the people, watching the dancing, listening to the music, sampling the food, and strolling through the vendor booths. I would just go, set up my chair somewhere near the circle, and watch.

Not long after I started attending MCNAA’s pow-wows, I felt compelled to do more. I’d made and brought some baked goods to share with the MCNAA volunteers and dancers, but I hadn’t fully stepped into what would become a very fulfilling volunteer role for me. I was actually reluctant to offer too much help at first because I thought they might wonder why I was being so helpful. An odd thing to think now that I know how much help MCNAA needs and appreciates, but it’s kind of how my mind works.

As the years passed, I went from making baked goods, to helping with a few setup things on the weekend of the pow-wow, to going to the grounds on Friday morning to help set up the area for the pow-wow and then volunteering in the booth during the pow-wow weekend. The main reason I went out to Massachusetts during Memorial Day weekend this year and the past couple years was to help MCNAA as much as possible with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow. I always find it to be a very rewarding experience and as anyone who knows me understands, I love being useful!

To help with setup this year, I headed down to Marshfield, MA from Seabrook, NH in the morning. I knew from previous years that there would be a lot of traffic due to the holiday weekend, especially the further south I went because people were heading down to Cape Cod. As I had nothing pressing holding me in Seabrook, I headed down earlier than necessary to the Marshfield Fairgrounds where the pow-wow was taking place. Even with the slowdowns of traffic I encountered around Boston and as I neared the Cape Cod access, I arrived at the grounds an hour earlier than I was expected to be there.

It was a beautiful, breezy day on that Friday, but quickly becoming rather hot and humid. I’d thoroughly sprayed myself with sunblock to avoid getting burned and was stocked up on water and Gatorade to stay hydrated during the day’s work. I parked my car in the shade at the fairgrounds and finished eating the breakfast sandwich I’d grabbed from Dunkin’ Donuts in Seabrook. The Marshfield Fairgrounds have permanent outbuildings setup for food during the Marshfield Fair and a few larger buildings around, one with a nice little pond and waterfall out front. There’s ample parking at the grounds and the restrooms are quite large and always clean.

MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow

Grounds before the circle and canopies are set up.

Although I was there earlier than expected, I was not the first to arrive, as one of the board members who lived nearby was already there. I chatted with him and one of the vendors who always arrives early until the rest of the MCNAA board members arrived with the Uhaul full of pow-wow necessities. In hindsight, I wished I’d gone to help load the Uhaul because I obviously had time and it’s usually only a few people loading it up, most of them MCNAA board members. Perhaps next year I’ll think of that sooner.

This year on the grounds a mother fox had decided to have her babies under one of the outbuildings and there were signs up telling people to keep out. I saw the mother fox once during my time there, but never saw the babies. I love foxes and considered them a good omen and sign of good luck, so I knew it was going to be a great weekend.

fox sign

Setting up for an MCNAA pow-wow requires setting up the canopy the drum groups play under, putting up the dance Circle, assembling the canopies for the MCNAA booth, and making sure the vendors know where to set up when they arrive. Vendors arrive all throughout the day to set up and there’s a master map showing their spots, although many of them have the same spots every year and know where to go.

One of the biggest things to set up is the drum canopy because it’s so long and tall, but myself, a board member, and another volunteer got it set up in record time this year. Although I’ve been helping with setup for a couple of years, I was called a “newbie” a few times this year, which actually made me feel good because this newbie learns her way around pretty fast!

MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow

A small but mighty crew of volunteers and board members.

Once the drum canopy was set up, I helped with the dance Circle. There’s always a discussion about how large the Circle should be and it usually goes from too small to too big or vice versa before it’s just right. I just help by carrying stakes or rope because I’m not that great at pounding the wood stakes into the ground. By the time I was done helping with that, the other volunteers and board members already had the MCNAA canopies set up and the folding tables out and in the usual pile until they were needed the next day. I paused to eat some of the lunch wrap I’d bought at the store that morning and drink some Gatorade before looking to see where I was needed next.

I then spent some time trying to help set up the canopy that goes at the main gate to the pow-wow, but we didn’t have much luck because the canopy was on its last legs. After that, I hung around with the board members as more vendors came and we chatted about various things. It was quite hot by that time and I spent some time in the air-conditioned Uhaul enjoying the cool air and shade. Although I was hot, tired, and sweaty, I was happy because I was being useful.

Volunteering my time to help the MCNAA always makes me feel so fulfilled, wanted, and needed. It’s always a rather small crew setting up the pow-wows, despite various requests for volunteers before the events. I come all the way from the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York to help them out for their pow-wows and it’s always well worth the trip. I truly wish more people would come to volunteer with set up and/or during the pow-wows, but I don’t know what the magic spell is to make that happen.

I know that people are busy with this, that, and the other thing, but I also sometimes think that everyone just expects “someone else” to do what needs to be done. I think this because I used to be one of those people. But now that I volunteer regularly for the MCNAA pow-wows and whatever else I can help with, I know that I’ll never think that way again. There is always a need for help and if a shy, semi-introverted girl like myself can put myself out there into unfamiliar territory, so can anyone else. I promise it’s a truly rewarding experience that renews the spirit, energizes the soul, and warms the heart.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the MCNAA (no matter where you live), visit this Volunteer Opportunities page on the MCNAA website. The MCNAA needs grant writers, office volunteers, volunteers for special events, volunteers to serve on the MCNAA fundraising committee, and volunteers to serve on the pow-wow committee. Native and non-Native are welcome to help!

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The Trip That Almost Didn’t Happen

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One of the welcome signs for Massachusetts.

Every May for the past few years, I’ve headed out to Massachusetts on Memorial Day weekend so I can volunteer at and attend the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow at the Marshfield Fairgrounds in Marshfield, MA. I love helping out and dancing at the pow-wows and I arrive in New England a few days before the pow-wow to embark on other adventures, such as spending a day in Boston or heading to the beach to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scent of the ocean.

However, with the various problems I’ve had these past few months such as major plumbing repairs and needing a new transmission and clutch in my Matrix, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make my annual Memorial Day trip. Thankfully, through something almost akin to divine intervention, I am actually able to make the trip. Today is finally the day I head out to New England where so many people, places, and events happen that lift my spirit and I’m so excited!

My last road trip to Massachusetts was last August with my girls and we’ll be doing our annual summer vacation out there again this August, but my solo trips are always a different adventure than family trips. These solo trips have been one of the many things that have helped me better understand who I am as I expand my horizons and bravely adventure alone. My first ever trip out to Massachusetts and into Boston in November of 2011 was one of my most memorable experiences and was the start of my New England adventures.

The weather for my trip as predicted now is supposed to be beautiful. There’s a chance of rain on the weekend during the pow-wow, but I’ve danced in the rain before and I can certainly do so again. If you’re in the area of Marshfield, MA, I urge you to come to the pow-wow because it’s always an amazing, educational, and memorable experience. It got a semi introvert like me out dancing in front of people, so it’s obviously capable of great things! You can find information about the pow-wow on the MCNAA website or the MCNAA Facebook event page. If you have the time, we can always use more volunteers too!

As I head out to New England this morning, I’ll probably pinch myself at least once to make sure I’m not dreaming. Even though I’ve made so many of these road trips they’ve become almost second nature, they will never become old to me. Every trip out brings new and unexpected adventures and I revel in every moment of it! After the past few months, I feel like I definitely need and deserve a bit of fun and I’m certain I’ll have much more than a bit!

Water is Life. I Stand with Standing Rock.

Water is life. I stand with Standing Rock. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you check out the following websites and Facebook pages. From these you can find others and a lot more information that you’ll ever see on the nightly news.

Indigenous Environmental Network: Facebook Page, Website

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: Facebook Page, Website

Standing Rock Protectors – Pipeline Protest Facebook Page

Sacred Stone Camp: Facebook Page, Website

Indigenous Life Movement Facebook Page

http://billmoyers.com/story/need-know-dakota-access-pipeline-protest/

I am usually a quiet person who tries not to make waves and looks for the positive in all things. I’m still that person, but recent events in North Dakota involving my Native American relations have brought the warrior out in me. I am Onondagan but we-all humans, all living things-are all related, no matter our ancestry. What’s happening in North Dakota right now saddens, angers, confuses and astounds me. I already knew that Big Oil ran the world, but this horrible violation of the human rights of peaceful unarmed Water Protectors sickens me even more. There are multiple sides to every story and I’m not there to see firsthand what’s happening, but I support the Water Protectors and in my heart I know they are right to protest the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

There is no Planet B and unfortunately, we humans continue to do a wonderful job of destroying the Earth. I am not innocent of such destruction as I drive a gas-powered car, use propane as a heating source and buy all sorts of products that wouldn’t be possible without Big Oil. However, I do my best to help protect and preserve the planet by recycling, supporting Native American organizations and limiting my energy consumption wherever possible.

For anyone thinking this is just a Native American issue, you’re wrong. This is everyone’s issue. We need water to survive and the more we pollute, poison and deplete that water, the worse it gets for every living creature on this planet. I have a deep understanding of how important and precious water is because I get my home water supply from a well. That well periodically flows with sulfur water due to the slate and shale ground where I live. Although research indicates that sulfur water is more nuisance than actual health hazard, I don’t drink my house water unless it goes through a filter.

The water from my faucets comes out black sometimes and when I shower in it, I don’t exactly feel clean. I get a majority of my drinking water by refilling plastic gallon jugs at my mother’s house. I don’t buy flats of bottles water because I feel that’s extremely wasteful and I only replace the gallon jugs when they start to leak. To water my outside plants, I gather rainwater because it’s a natural resource that should never be wasted or taken for granted.

The Dakota Access Pipeline and all existing underground pipelines can leak without anyone knowing and seep into the underground water supply. I highly doubt there’s any sort of Brita or Pur water filter that’s going to effectively remove such poison from the water. The proposed last stretch of DAPL is set to go directly under the Missouri River. There are already several gas and oil lines running under water sources across the country and the companies who build them insist that they make them “as safe as possible.” How about not making them at all? There have already been numerous pipeline leaks over the years and a very recent one in the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. I fully understand and stand with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock as they fight the completion of another “Black Snake.”

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Although I fear that it may be impossible to win against Big Oil until there is no more oil left and the planet is nearly destroyed, I will always fight the good fight for myself, my daughters, future generations and every living creature on this planet.

I ask you to Stand with Standing Rock and help the Water Protectors in any way you can. Visit the following websites for information on how you can help!

Indigenous Environmental Network: Facebook Page, Website

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: Facebook Page, Website

Standing Rock Protectors – Pipeline Protest Facebook Page

Sacred Stone Camp: Facebook Page, Website

Indigenous Life Movement Facebook Page

Changing up my New England trips

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites on my New England drives.

When I cross this bridge on my New England road trips I know I’m close to MA.

When I started making frequent trips to New England, the dates I would visit were mostly random and didn’t usually coincide with any particular events. That all changed after I attended my first Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness pow-wow and realized I wanted to attend as many as I could. To that end, I’ve planned my trips around the dates of the MCNAA pow-wows for the past two years and I continued that tradition this spring with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow, their first pow-wow of the year. It was after that most recent trip that I realized it was past time to change things up a bit.

As usual for my most recent trip, I drove out on a Wednesday, stayed in a hotel up in Seabrook, NH, stocked up on a few groceries from Market Basket, visited Newburyport and Amesbury and took a day trip into Boston. I’d told the friend I’d known the longest from New England, and who was one of the main reasons for my first trip out that way, that I wanted to see them and they said they wanted to see me too. It had been a year since we saw each other and I thought a brief chat and a hug wasn’t too much to ask.

Unfortunately, when it came down to it my friend made excuses for why they couldn’t see me and we never saw each other. Although I tried to shrug it off at the time, it hurt my feelings and made me realize it was time for a change.

As it turned out, I did get my chat and my hug during that last trip, just not as I’d expected. I gave one of the MCNAA Board members a ride home after helping out Friday before the pow-wow and she and I had a nice chat while navigating the stop-and-go Memorial Day traffic. I received several hugs from familiar friends at the pow-wow and an especially tight one from Harry the Hawk, one of my favorite pow-wow dancers. So despite the hurt caused by someone I had called friend, the universe reminded me that I am a valued friend to others.

In the spirit of change and taking a different path, the main reason for my upcoming New England trip is to volunteer at and attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA. I won’t be making any trips up to New Hampshire, northern MA or into Boston, not that there’s really time anyway. I will be heading out Thursday evening instead of Wednesday morning because I watch my girls for my ex Thursday and don’t want to miss time with them. Plus, heading out in the evening should help me miss a lot of the usual traffic I encounter in MA.

My hotel is a less than 10-minute drive from the pow-wow location at Endicott Park, which will be a welcome change from having to drive down from Seabrook, NH. I’ve never stayed in Danvers, only visited there for pow-wows so I’ll have to learn a completely new area, but I’m sure it will be good for me. It’s past time I explore more of Massachusetts than just the few specific locations I’ve visited and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of interesting experiences just like always. I’ll probably get all sorts of lost too…just like usual. 😉

“Beauty Tips” from a Semi-girly Tomboy – Hair, Nails, Vitamins, Exercise & Diet

Curls and Star Wars shirt by JulieAnn Corbin

Curled hair and a Star Wars shirt because I’m awesome like that 😉

As a continuation of my previous post, here’s what I do to care for my hair and nails long with the Vitamins I take daily and what I do to eat healthy. This is all what I’ve found works for me and everyone is unique so always do what is best for you.  I do actually use every product I mention and the ones I provide links to in this post are ones I want to help promote because they’re sold by Native American owned and operated businesses. The only “compensation” I receive by linking to them is the hope that others purchase and enjoy these great products.

Hair care

I’ve been growing my hair out for a few years and it’s now down to the middle of my back. This is the longest it’s been while still being natural, i.e. no hair color or perm. To help my hair grow and remain healthy, I take 10000 mcg of Biotin every morning along with my other vitamins (which I’ll cover later). For deep conditioning, a couple times a week I apply coconut oil to the lower half of my hair, put it in a low bun and wrap saran wrap around the bun, letting it sit like that for a few hours before washing it thoroughly. I’ve tried other mixtures of egg yolk and honey and such to help nourish my hair, but they’re rather messy and I’ve found coconut oil works fine for me.

Although I did try the no shampoo route a few years ago, I discovered it just didn’t work for my hair and so I went back to washing my hair every other day. My favorite shampoo is Sister Sky’s Sweetgrass and Yucca Root Shampoo because it’s free of Parabens, Sulfates and Phthalates. I follow with their Sweetgrass and Horsetail Herb Conditioner through the bottom half of my hair. I find that the shampoo and conditioner makes my hair very happy and create wonderful smell that lingers.

After I rinse my hair, I then wrap it in a 100% cotton t-shirt that says “Mom” on it in big, pink sparkly letters. A plain 100% cotton t-shirt would work fine too, I just grabbed that one to add a little “mom glam” to my routine. I wrap my hair in a cotton t-shirt instead of a towel because I read that it’s better for my hair than scrubbing a terry cloth towel through it. I’ve found that my hair is much happier when I use the shirt.

When I take my hair down out of the shirt, I then comb it out with a large tooth comb and if it’s warm weather, let it air dry. I have to blow dry it in the winter to avoid getting a chill, but in the nicer weather, I air dry as much as possible to avoid heat damage. Most days during the summer I wear it in a braid or a bun but sometimes when it’s cooler out, I curl it with my Automatic Hair Curler, making sure a apply a heat protective spray to my hair first.

Nails

I have never received a professional manicure or pedicure in my life because I can’t justify spending money on such things, but I imagine they’re nice things for those who like them. I have very healthy nails, always have, and they grow quite fast. I tend to keep my nails rather short and trim them with nail clippers because they interfere with my typing, beading, housework and yardwork otherwise. If I do grow them long, I like to use one of the colorful nail polishes made by Native War Paints.

Vitamins

Every day I take a certain set of vitamins as I’ve found them beneficial in supporting my health and immune system. I take a daily women’s formula multivitamin, the 10,000 mcg of Biotin I mentioned earlier, 1000 mg of Vitamin C and 400 IU of D3. I believe the Vitamin C helped me avoid any cold or flu this past winter and the D3 helped stave off the winter blues that used to plague me. I’ve also been using a tablespoon of local honey in my morning cup of tea (one bag of Celestial Seasoning’s Morning Thunder and one bag of Bengal Spice) and I haven’t had an issue with allergies in over two years. If you struggle with allergies, I strongly suggest adding local honey to your daily diet as a natural alternative to allergy medications. It took about a year for the full effects in my case, but it was well worth it! Plus, I rather love honey so it was easy to do.

Exercise and Diet

To stay fit, I walk my dog Jazzmin whenever I can and lift weights. I curl 20-pound weights to work my biceps, use 12-pound weights for tricep extensions and 5-8 pound weights to work my shoulders. As an additional aerobic workout, I practice pow-wow dancing or do a Zumba routine. I know that to increase my weight loss I need to exercise more frequently and eat less but that doesn’t always happen.

Having a healthy body is also about what you put in it and while I don’t eat a perfectly healthy diet, I do make an effort. During the week I have a smoothie for breakfast and it consists of a Greek Yogurt, apple slices, carrots, kale, blueberries, strawberries, raw bee pollen, raw chia seeds, turmeric, light vanilla Silk soy milk and vanilla protein powder. This smoothie usually lasts me until lunch. If I’m home for lunch, I make a salad or wrap with chicken and cheese and drink a shake made of soymilk, chocolate protein powder, 3-4 ice cubes, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. For an afternoon snack, I’ll either have 6-7 Triscuits with cheese or toast half a whole-wheat pita pocket and dip it in hummus. Dinner changes daily but I try to stay healthy. Desserts and going out to eat are usually my downfall.

So there you have it! A glimpse into the “beauty routines” of a semi-girly tomboy. Thank you for visiting my blog and feel free to ask questions or add comments. =)

Another Whirlwind Tour of New England

 

Massachusetts hills by JulieAnn Corbin

Tomorrow morning I head to New England once again and I’m so looking forward to it! Last time I visited was at the end of March/beginning of April and I had the misfortune of driving through an unexpected snowstorm on the way home. As it’s now May and very summer-like, I do hope that won’t be happening again!

As usual, I’ll be cramming a lot into my visits and it’s all of my own choice. My days in Upstate New York are relatively predictable, but I don’t consider that a bad thing as I’m quite happy and never bored. However, driving out to southern New Hampshire/northern Massachusetts offers me new, interesting adventures not possible where I live. I’ll be spending a day in Boston, hopefully visiting Newburyport and Amesbury, helping set up for the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow in Marshfield, MA and attending the event on Saturday. I love visiting with my friends from the MCNAA, helping out however I can and dancing in the circle. I’m sure I’ll have a wonderful time!

One thing that surprises most people about my road trips is that I actually enjoy the drive out. The drive home always feels a bit longer, but on the drive out, I love watching the scenery change as I move east across New York State and enter the tall hills/mountains of western Massachusetts. I always know I’m getting closer to MA when the hills grow taller and the road becomes more winding. There are some who don’t do well in thruway/interstate traffic, but I’ve become accustomed to it and I set my cruise at a safe, reasonable speed.

So tomorrow morning after my girls get on the bus and head to school and I’ve dropped Jazzmin at the doggy hotel, I’ll be stopping at Dunkin Donuts to grab my usual large coffee and breakfast sandwich before hitting the thruway east. Look out, New England, here comes another whirlwind tour by yours truly! 😉

 

Wings of Arrows

See if you can spot the hawk...

See if you can spot the hawk…

The weather yesterday made it feel like April instead of February and I took advantage of the mild temperatures by taking a nice long walk with Jazzmin. We went up the big hill, which we haven’t in many months and as we neared the hill, I saw a hawk sitting in the bare branches of a tree alongside the road. I’ve become really good at spotting hawks from a distance now and I slowed my pace knowing he would fly off as soon as we got close. As soon as we were within 20 feet, he took off just as I’d expected. I can’t take decent distance pictures with my camera phone, but I snapped a couple photos as he flew out of the tree and across the field next to the road.

A bit further down the road I saw another hawk soaring in the sky and I stopped to watch his graceful movements as he rode the wind. I see hawks quite often and I know they’re one of my spirit guides/spirit guardians/animal totems. Seeing one is always a good omen and I take them as a sign that I’m headed in the right direction with my life, my feelings and my thoughts. Hawks are like arrows pointing me on my way with their graceful, beautiful wings and I feel so blessed that they watch over me.

Although today wasn’t as warm as yesterday, I took Jazz out on a walk because it’s my duty as her pack leader and it’s good for both of us. I’d just reached the end of my driveway when I heard a hawk cry in the sky. I stopped and turned back toward my house, peering into the sky for the source of the cry. After a few moments of searching, I saw the hawk soaring high up amid the clouds and blue sky and I smiled.

Happy that I’d seen a hawk so early on our walk, I headed down the road and glanced toward where the hawk had been. Much to my surprise, I realized there were two more hawks flying with the first hawk. By the time I reached the end of my road, there were four hawks circling in the sky and they had broken up into two couples. I stopped again and just watched them in awe because it had been quite a while since I saw four hawks flying together.

When we returned to my house, I felt even more blessed as I saw that the four hawks continued to circle near my home. The couples had broken apart, one set soaring over the road down the hill and the other soaring over the field behind my house. I was honored that they remained nearby and I’m certain they’re an indication of positive things yet to come in my life. With my future traveling on wings of arrows, I know that everything will be just fine.