Log Cabin Chronicles


© 2010 Gordon Alexander
Clan member Diane Tringle of Sutton, Quebec, deep in the "now" while interpreting her own native dance on Saturday, August 7, 2010.

Gordon Alexander
Posted 08.09.10

EVANSVILLE, VERMONT | "No bumper stickers? No flags? What kind of a pow wow is this?"

Karen Redfeather of Chelsea, Vermont, was laughing when she met her friends on the tribal reservation of the Abenaki Clan of the Hawk's 19th annual 2-day Inter-tribal/International Pow Wow here on Saturday, a few kilometers from the Canadian border Saturday. Redfeather used come to pow wows with her tent that featured inter- tribal bumper stickers and flags, but took a year off to travel.

Several hundred visitors from both sides of the border met on the grounds for a get-together, to enjoy traditional dancing, food, and crafts. There was a grand entry into a Abenaki spiritual circle for some Indian dancing to three drum groups, many of the participants dressed in tribal regalia.

© 2010 Gordon Alexander
Smudging is a traditional First Nation cleansing ritual where smoke is 'washed' over the person with a feather fanning the smoke from an incense burner. The smoke rises from the burning of sweetgrass, sage, and cedar. The ritual involves the cleansing of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits, or negative energy. Spectators as well as tribe members were invited to participate in this ritual.

"It is not too late to get smudged before the Grand Entry ceremony," Chief Lone Cloud of the Clan of the Hawk said on a loud speaker as assorted groups of Native Americans and Canada's First Nations dressed in traditional regalia were getting ready for the opening ceremony.

The word "pow wow," which we associate with the pow wow celebrations, or with pow wow dances, actually began as a name -- the term came from the Algonkian-speaking Narragansett Indians of New England.

The word referred, not to a dance or celebration, but a council or gathering. When the English met with Indian leaders they would "pow wow" together.


Traditions of drumming, dancing, and tribal regalia mixed with crafts and good food under a warm mid-summer sun. For the travelers to the pow wow, traditional teepees or wigwams gave way to more practical and conventional creature-comfort laden travelers. Native American flute player/story teller John Loper was the guest entertainer.

The Clan of the Hawk is a very active group of Native Americans that belong to the Northeast Wind Council of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont. A few years ago, the Clan of the Hawk formed a craft cooperative to promote Native heritage and give its members and friends a chance to learn some of the old crafts that had almost been forgotten. This program continues on a year round basis.

According to a published official Abenaki ( pronounced Ah-Bin-Ah-Key) fact sheet, The United States, the government does not officially recognize the Abenaki tribe. This upsets the Abenakis because they do not have hunting or fishing rights, they cannot sell arts and crafts under Indian craft laws, and other American Indians don't always recognize or cooperate with them. The Abenaki want to be recognized as a true Indian tribe, but because their ancestors often hid from the Americans or fled into Canada, they cannot prove that they have continuously lived in New England.

© 2010 Gordon Alexander

copyright © 2010 Gordon Alexander/log cabin chronicles/8.10