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Native American groups gathering at powwow

9/9/2010 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Druming is shown during a past Crooked River All Nation Powwow.
Photos courtesy of Nell Orndorf
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Native American culture will be celebrated at the Third Annual Crooked River All Nation Powwow, taking place at Keyser Park Sept. 11-12.

Native dances, drumming, clothing and food will be part of the two-day event that organizers say will attract people from Ohio as well as surrounding states.

“We have people coming from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Indiana and maybe Wisconsin,” said Nell Orndorf, who is chairing the event this year for the Northampton Historical Society. “These are tribal people that are coming to drum, dance, sing or whatever.”

A man dances at a past Crooked River All Nation Powwow.
Orndorf, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, said she and her neighbor Dreama Powell are both Native American and had kicked around the idea of a local powwow event for years. In May of 2008, the two talked again about the idea, and Orndorf decided to “quit talking about it and do it.”

The first event took place two years ago with the help of the city and Mayor Don Robart, Orndorf said. In the second year, about 700 people came to the park, she said.

“This year, we expect over 1,000,” she said. “Last year, we had 12 vendors and this year I’ve sent out contracts to 42.”

Orndorf said a powwow is like a family reunion for Native Americans and those interested in their culture.

Among the highlights during the weekend is a Grand Entry, which is a circular procession that will take place at noon and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11 and at 1 p.m. Sept. 12.

“The Grand Entry is paying respect to the great spirit, the creator,” Orndorf said. Participants, dressed in colorful regalia, will bring a range of flags into the circle during the exercise. Because of the spiritual nature of the Grand Entry, Orndorf asks that no photos be taken at that time.

Throughout the day, Native American groups will present performances of dance and music. There also will be a children’s area with make-and-take crafts.

Vendors will be on hand with food, including traditional fry bread, which is dough that is fried.

“It’s very addictive,” Orndorf said of the treat, which is used to hold taco fillings and sometimes sweetened with powdered sugar.

Artisans also will be on hand with Native American jewelry and skins, Orndorf said.

Proceeds from the event will support the Akron-based Native American Indian and Veterans Center.

“They help over 200 families-plus a year,” Orndorf said. “They give support and food. They try to direct them to different social services to find jobs and housing.”

According to its website, the organization’s mission is “to assist in bringing communities together by promoting cultural awareness, and improving personal health and quality of life of the under-served Native Americans and U.S. Veterans.”

Orndorf said Keyser Park is a great place for the powwow, as it was the farmstead of the Keyser family. She added the historical society has been told the family often helped Native Americans as they portaged their way through the region.

“Cuyahoga Falls has a tremendous Native American history,” she said. “It’s really a very appropriate place to have the powwow.”

Orndorf said there will be limited seating available at the event, so attendees are allowed to bring chairs or blankets.

Before the weekend’s events, the powwow will begin with a bonfire after dark Sept. 10. The powwow will take place Sept. 11 from 10 a.m. to dark, followed by another bonfire, and Sept. 12 from noon to 5 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and free for children younger than 12. Keyser Park is located at 783 W. Bath Road. For more information, call Orndorf at 330-929-1963.

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