SALAMANCA, N.Y._Native American drums and songs honoring our veterans of military service rained down on dancers and spectators during the Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Pow Wow for three days.
“Free” Friday started the event under clear skies. American Legion Iroquois Post 1587 members and fellow veterans from all across the U.S. lead the more than 200 dancers into the circle at Veterans Park.
Saturday started off with the inspiring Veteran’s Honoring Ceremony for retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate Annette Manning of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Manning served more than 20 years and worked on numerous Navy aircraft.
The intermittent rain forced the competing dancers to perform under tents.
The skies cleared Sunday and the attendance figures rose dramatically throughout the day.
There were a multitude of art / craft and food vendors on-site for those seeking actual Native American artwork and cuisine.
There were 436 dancers (75 of them were Tiny Tots),10 drum groups and 81 drummers.
From the 2014 Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Pow Wow program guide
Pow wows began on Seneca Nation territories in the late 1980s. Although pow wows are not a part of the Seneca culture historically, it is understood that early organizers began holding them on Seneca territories as a way to extend their hand in friendship to their neighbors and other Nations from across the country. It is a borrowed custom, but also an effort to infuse the pow wow with the unique Seneca culture by showcasing the Iroquois dance styles, such as the smoke dance and various social dances that highlight local Seneca singers and instruments.
There are several different stories about how pow wows started. Some believe that the Ponca and other Southern Plains Tribes originate the pow wow. Another belief is that the government forced Native American tribes on reservations and made the tribes have dances for the public to come and see.
Before each dance they were lead through the town in a parade, which is the beginning of the Grand Entry. In any case, it is certain the pow wows did not originate in this part of the country, and that over the course of the 20th century they evolved into intertribal gatherings representing a variety of Native American cultures.
Today, pow wows are held all across the North American continent and are famous for their pageantry of colors and dance, which have been adopted and changed over time. Thousands of singers, dancers and vendors follow their respective cultures and compete in drum and dance competitions.