The Nanticoke Indian Association will welcome people to the Millsboro area from across the United States and Canada this weekend, Sept. 10-11, for the tribe’s 28th annual powwow.
The yearly celebration delivers two days of Amerindian dancing, food and family bonding.
“For some relatives, this is sometimes the only time they come home,” said Tecita Lonewolf, the powwow coordinator. “It’s a really big gathering for families and the community as well.”
For the event planner, the array of dynamic dances — from jingle to grass to traditional — clearly constitutes the greatest attraction.
“I think all the dancing is very exciting. One of the other exciting things that happens is the emcee will say, ‘Ok, everybody dance,’” she said. “That’s when the audience really has a good time. They look forward to that.”
Vendors also contribute to the interactive vibe. Coming from as far away as Arizona and New Mexico, many of the merchants make a living by traveling the powwow circuit, selling food, clothes or pottery.
The Nanticoke expects about 25,000 to 30,000 guests to attend the powwow, according to Lonewolf.
“The tribe is the host, so you invite other Indian people from wherever. And the word gets out in Indian national newspapers, so everybody knows when it will be,” she said. “The place is loaded. It’s wall-to-wall people.”
While visitors — Indian and not — venture from all over the North American map, Lonewolf said, the powwow elicits a lukewarm response from Southern Delaware locals.
“Locally, people just don’t attend that much, or they come from Wilmington or Dover,” she said. “I know one thing for sure, the people that come here from wherever spend a lot of money and time in Millsboro and Georgetown. We do certainly support our local businesses here.”
Sitting on the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce, however, Lonewolf said, has helped her garner the backing of the business association and its member retailers.
Tribal organizers resuscitated the annual powwow in 1977, after a 30-year lapse.
“We just decided it was time to start it again,” Lonewolf said, adding the celebration always occurs the first weekend after Labor Day.
The powwow grounds are located off of State Route 24, near Oak Orchard in Sussex County.
“The arena is inside a wooded area. So everything is in the shade,” Lonewolf said. “People really enjoy going there because it’s not all that hot.”
The schedule Saturday runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Grand Entry, the opening ceremony when all of the dancers appear, happens at noon. Sunday, a worship service will commence at 10 a.m., the booths will open at noon and dancing will start at 2 p.m.
Entry costs $2 for adults and $1 for children. All-day parking is available for $5.
Proceeds — including vendor booth fees and profits from the Nanticoke-operated stalls — serve the tribe’s Millsboro museum and scholarship fund.
For more information on the Nanticoke and this weekend’s powwow, visit www.nanticokeindians.org.