By Elizabeth Deroche
Wednesday, September 5, 2007 11:11 AM HST
Tom Whitney

DeRoche and Uncle George. - Keana Okuda

Chanter at powwow. - Chris Madden

May seems like a long time off but the Federation of American Natives is already working hard to organize The Third Annual Hilo Inter-Tribal PowWow scheduled May 24th, 25th and 26th, 2008 at Wailoa River State Park. The Big Island Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. are once again partners in bringing the traditional celebration of Native American culture to East Hawai`i. This past May saw 20,000 people in the park enjoying three days of multi-cultural fun that included dancing, food, crafts, children's activities and special demonstrations.

An exciting collaboration is evolving with Connections Public Charter School. Like the Hilo PowWow, Connections PCS has a multi-cultural focus which provides opportunities for students to learn about their own traditions and others. "We look forward to continuing as a strong supporter and participant in this important multi-cultural event and welcoming Powwow visitors and participants into our school to share cultures again as we have in the past," said John Thatcher, administrator. The CPCS Cultural Day will be held just before the Powwow.

The 2008 Host Drum will be the Northern traditional singers Moccasin Flat from Alberta Canada. Oliver Shouting aka "Mr. Aloha" will be returning as Master of Ceremonies. His wonderful sense of humor and traditional decorum keeps us on track. His son, Sterling Shouting, will be our Head Man Dancer. Shouting is an international champion Traditional and Chicken dancer. He is sure to show us all some new moves! Another champion from Canada, Marcie Magines will serve as Head Woman Dancer. Magines is well known for her graceful and energetic Jingle Dance style. Dan McDaniel will serve as Arena Director.

Those wonderful cultural emissaries of the Yakama Nation, the Wapato Indian Club will be returning for their third year. As Margaret Carter, group advisor explains, "The Indian Club finds a lot of cultural value and social enjoyment out of the Hilo PowWow. We find it to be a huge value to our youth." Spakus Splolem (Eagle Song Dancers) is also planning a return visit in 2008. Anyone who witnessed their performances of traditional Squamish dances this year will be eager for their return. Shelly Hill who gave such wonderful demonstrations of the Smoke Dance will be back with her family

Local drum Hunter's Moon led by Mike Running Wind will be on hand. Running Wind and some fellow Apaches are also working on a special demonstration of traditional dances. Other drums with a desire to participate include Muskwa Ridge from the Ermineskin Reserve in Alberta and Wildhorse Singers from California. Jorge LeChuga, head of Wildhorse Singers, hopes to bring their youth drum.

Word of the Hilo effort has spread and we are receiving inquiries from groups throughout Indian Country. Those groups include: The Warriors of AniKituhwa, a Cherokee dance group who is making history by recreating Cherokee dances described in 1762 including a War Dance and the Eagle Tail Dance. They dance at the National Museum of the American Indian and events throughout the Southeast and are designated as official cultural ambassadors of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Rolling Thunder Dance Theater is comprised of local Aboriginal youth from Dawson Creek British Columbia. Fara Palmer, Cree/Saulteaux, is a two-time Canadian JUNO and CAMA nominated artist who inspires positive change and is dedicated to spreading the message of self-empowerment and cultural awareness among First Nations people through her folk/rock music.

It is the hope of the Federation of American Natives that we can host as many of these groups as possible. Without strong community support it won't happen. Last year, it was the generosity of small local businesses and community members that made the event so successful. Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the event can send it to BIRC&DC, 101 Aupuni St Ste. 229A Hilo HI 96720. For more information email info@hilopowwow.com or call 557-8607 and leave a message.

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