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Pow Wow honors native culture, Mother Earth

South Boston News
Chief John Blackfeather Jeffries / May 17, 2017
Over the weekend, the third annual Southern Virginia American Indian Festival took place at the South Central Fairgrounds in Chase City. Despite the rainy weather Friday night, the event was successful in celebrating mother earth, Native American culture and excellence, promoting inclusivity and diversity and honoring veterans and mothers.

A prominent part of this intertribal powwow was the dancing and drumming, complete with expert dancers in spectacular regalia and the Yapatoko host drum. Burke Lemon was the arena director while Chief John Blackfeather Jeffries served as the master of ceremonies.

More than 40 tribes from around the United States were invited to the Pow Wow this year. Among those who came were Cindy and Chris Bowman, whose tribal affiliation is Osage Nation. They were selling handmade flutes, artwork, arrows, artifacts, feather hair pieces, beadwork, earrings and of course dreamcatchers from their booth.

In addition to their artistry skills, the two shared a wealth of knowledge about the origins and history of the Osage Nation – their peoples’ ties to the development of the Oklahoma oil fields and the tragedy that befell many members of the Osage Nation because of their wealth from oil royalties.

The story was recently chronicled in a book by David Grann, “Killers of the Flower of the Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” and is being made into a movie, Chris Bowman said.

It is the tale of how greed resulted in the murder of 904 members of the Osage Nation, explained Cindy, all for headrights. Under the Osage Allotment Act of 1906 all subsurface minerals within the Osage Nation Reservation were tribally owned and held in trust by the U.S. government. Osage mineral leases earned royalties that were paid to the tribe as a whole, with each allottee receiving one equal share, or headright, of the payments. A headright was hereditary and passed to a deceased allottee’s immediate legal heir(s). One did not have to be an Osage to inherit an Osage headright.

Bear and Lady Bear Brooks, who are affiliated with the Melungeon and Cherokee Nations, were at the Pow Wow to share a history lesson, as well, demonstrating life skills passed down from their American Indian ancestors.

Patty Williams, one of the organizers of this year’s event, deemed the weekend Pow Wow a success and was already looking forward to next year.

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