One Pow-Wow, Two Seasons

pow-wow dancers

Saturday morning of the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow I woke early (as I always do, even on vacation), enjoyed the hotel breakfast, and worked on a beading project I’d brought with me. I never go on a road trip without some beading supplies, as I know I’ll always have some time to work on new creations. It was already humid when I got up and I knew the day was predicted to be just as hot as Friday had been during setup.

Once fed, washed, and dressed, I headed to the Marshfield Fairgrounds to help out at with the final setup of the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow. I arrived a few hours before the gates opened and helped the board members and volunteers that were already there finish setting up the MCNAA booth. The booth usually has three tables, one covered with free, helpful information about various Native American topics and the other two holding MCNAA merchandise such as shirts, patches, and bags. One of the board members was nice enough to say I could set up a little spot on the tables to sell my beaded jewelry and I’ll go into that more in a future blog post about my first experience as a pow-wow vendor.

I set my bag with some beading stuff by one of the chairs in the MCNAA booth and I enjoyed the shade of the canopy as the day quickly warmed up. There was a breeze, but it was still quite hot by the time the event started. In previous years, I have gone out and danced in the heat and the sun, but on that Saturday of the pow-wow I chose to remain in the shade of the booth to assist other MCNAA volunteers with answering questions, selling merchandise, and helping out however I could.

While the heat was too much for me to dance in, there were many dancers that went out into the Circle and danced. I have the utmost respect for them and don’t know how they do it sometimes. I was sweating just sitting in the shade, so I can only imagine how hot it was dancing in the sun in full regalia. (All images courtesy of MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow Page)

Despite the heat, I enjoyed my time volunteering at the MCNAA pow-wow on Saturday and made sure I stayed hydrated. When I wasn’t busy helping people who came up to the booth, I would work on my beading project and also on mending my fringed shawl that I accidentally ripped at a pow-wow the previous year. Overall, I felt it was a wonderful day for the pow-wow and that MCNAA received some nice donations, sold several shirts, and some patches.

We had a special meal that evening to celebrate Harry the Hawk’s birthday and it was nice sitting down with dancers, volunteers, and vendors to discuss various things.

pow-wow meal

The weather prediction for Sunday called for much cooler temperatures with a chance of rain and that prediction arrived quite accurately. While Saturday felt like late summer, the weather Sunday felt like early spring with temperatures in the 50’s, overcast skies, and a cool breeze. I welcomed the change wholeheartedly as it meant I’d be able to dance in the Circle that day without worrying about getting sunburned or becoming overheated.

As the morning was quite chilly and there were fewer attendees expected due to the weather, the grounds were quite deserted when I arrived in the morning. I sat in my car while myself and the other volunteers waited for people to arrive. I busied myself putting the finishing touches on the jewelry display I’d updated for that day (again details will follow later).

Eventually I ventured out of my car to see where I could help MCNAA that day. I asked one of the board members if I could set the booth up and she said yes and that was the first time I’ve set up the entire booth mostly by myself. I was thrilled to do it! I love volunteering because I feel needed, useful, and helpful. Being able to set up the whole booth by putting on the tablecloths, setting out the information, and setting out the merchandise made me feel like I served an important purpose. I may not have set everything out perfectly, but I did my best and was proud of what I accomplished.

MCNAA booth

On Saturday, I was too hot to wear my shawl, but on Sunday it was so much cooler that I kept my lighter shawl around my shoulders and used my heavier shawl as a blanket on my legs. I was happy with the cooler weather though and eager to get out and dance when the drums started. There were far fewer people in attendance that day and not many dancers, but that didn’t keep me out of the Circle. My two favorite dancers, Harry the Hawk and Lee Braveheart were out there dancing and I joined them whenever possible. They were happy to see me in the Circle and their smiles and encouragement always lift my spirit, and my feet!

I danced almost every inter-tribal song that day and found the weather pleasantly cool. I did realize that I was very much out of pow-wow dancing shape and vowed to work on that before the next pow-wow. When I wasn’t dancing, I was at the MCNAA booth helping where I could. Despite the low attendance, I felt it was still a good day and I was invigorated by the dancing.

sneak up dance pow-wow

Sneak up dance featuring my favorite dancers, Harry the Hawk and Lee Braveheart.

The pow-wow wrapped up early when it started to rain and the cooler temperatures made it much less exhausting during take down of the pow-wow. Everything that we had put up Friday had to come down and usually the taking down goes faster than the putting up. It was still a small but determined crew of volunteers doing the work, myself included, and we got things down relatively quickly. I said my good-byes to Harry and Lee and promised them I’d try to make it to the September pow-wow at Plug Pond in Haverhill, MA.

When everything was down and the MCNAA crew was ready to head out, I said goodbye to everyone and enjoyed the hugs and well-wishes. As I drove back to my hotel for the night, I was beaming with joy and my spirit was soaring from the pow-wow atmosphere. For me, nothing compares to volunteering for the MCNAA and being able to dance in the Circle. It is a much needed reminder that I matter in this world and that we can all make a difference, if we’re just willing to make the effort.

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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. 😉

Beading bliss

Just a small sample of my beads and thread.

Just a small sample of my beads and thread.

My favorite thing to do for the last couple months has been beading. I began exploring beading amid making earrings and once I discovered all the different stitches and techniques, I was hooked! I’ve learned peyote, brick stitch, ladder stitch, square stitch and daisy chain so far and have several books containing a variety of other stitches I still need to learn. I use a loom for bigger projects like bracelets but for smaller things, I hand stitch.

Still one of my favorite creations, a peyote owl pendant

Still one of my favorite creations, a peyote owl pendant.

Once I’ve figured a stitch out, I can just sit there and do it without reading directions. It’s a very peaceful and enjoyable thing to work with beads, needle and thread creating a unique new piece. I create my own patterns using PatternMaker for Cross Stitch and bringing them to life with beads is always a fun process. I’ve actually surprised myself with my own creativity despite how much it expanded by making dangle and ball drop earrings with larger glass and stone beads.

As any beader will tell you, it’s addictive! And it involves finding beads all over the house, sometimes in strange locations like the bottom of my coffee mug and between my toes. I examine the carpet carefully before I vacuum and tend to find some seed beads hidden under the couch. I take my beading supplies with me when I visit my mom for a day and on my trips to New England. I can’t be without my beads and thread!

At the pow wows I attend there’s always beads for sale and I can’t seem to get away without buying a package or two. Never know when I’ll need a particular color I don’t already have! At the last pow wow I went to, one of the vendors was giving away a whole bunch of beading trays and storage containers and I happily took as much as I could carry in my arms 🙂 I admire all the beaded wares for sale at pow wows and know just how much work is involved now that I bead myself.

I’ve learned that it’s possible to translate all sorts of images into beading, from flowers to birds to a stormy sky, all it takes is a little creativity, patience and a lot of beads!

Loom bracelet I designed and made for a friend.

Loom bracelet I designed and made for a friend.

Not my usual New England visit

Grand Entry at UMAss Amherst Annual Pow-wow, 4/19/2014

Grand Entry at UMAss Amherst Annual Pow-wow, 4/19/2014

During my last trip to New England I attended a pow-wow for the first time in my life. It was held at UMass Amherst on a beautiful Saturday and the experience changed me forever. If you’ve never attended a pow-wow, I believe you’re missing out on something very important to the past, present and future of this planet we call home.

I found the experience so meaningful that I decided I needed to bring my daughters to a pow-wow. I was therefore happy to discover when I looked at the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) website that the Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow is taking place May 24th-25th. As that’s Memorial Day weekend and I have the girls for the holiday, I immediately made plans for the three of us to drive up to New England over the long weekend. If you’re in the area this weekend, I urge you to attend!

My usual trips to New England run from Wednesday to Sunday and involve me driving around solo on various adventures, wandering Amesbury and going wherever the wind blows. This will be the first time it’s just us three girls on a road trip and I’m sure it will be a fun and interesting challenge! Jaycie has been talking excitedly about it ever since I told her and I’m sure Jordan is eager as well. We’ll make the most of our time in New England and undoubtedly have stories to tell for the rest of time.

My next New England trip will follow the usual routine and take place end of June or early July. As long as the weather is nice, I get out to Massachusetts and New Hampshire as often as I can because that is where I feel most at home and welcome. It’s going to be a great summer!