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Independence Day for Native Americans and Their Patriotic Customs

Updated on July 3, 2017
Benjamin West's "The Death of General Wolfe."
Benjamin West's "The Death of General Wolfe." | Source

Native Americans on the Fourth of July

Our indigenous peoples of the USA are called many things: Native Americans, Native North Americans, American Indigenous Peoples, First Peoples, and American Indians. They all celebrate Independence Day.

My favorite Fourth of July occurred some years ago in Washington DC at the US National Pow Wow.On the mall, a returning Vietnam serviceman and Unites States Marine had a special part to play.

Native Americans from all of our country's military branches gathered with other citizens to celebrate the national holiday. There was a gathering of people from over 1,000 Native American Nations that helped fill the national mall to overflowing.

There national pow wow had become part of Independence Day.

US Army Pvt. Skyler Mathews, Kansa and Kaw Nation. The headpiece in the 931st Air Refueling Group's official symbol.
US Army Pvt. Skyler Mathews, Kansa and Kaw Nation. The headpiece in the 931st Air Refueling Group's official symbol. | Source

Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.

— Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Elder
Source

A nineteen-year old US Marine in his dress uniform and medals came forward to the speaker's stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

He was officially recognized for accomplishments in battle, but then he walked off the platform. We heard that he was to prepare for another presentation to us.

In a few minutes, he returned in full Southwestern Native American ceremonial dance attire and performed for the crowd with traditional music and drummers.

Would they laugh at him? Would they throw stones at him for being a member of the military during an unpopular conflict in the turbulent year 1969? Native Americans had only received US citizenship in 1964, after the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Administrations unsuccessfully attempted to eliminate indigenous communities and governments. People in the crow held their breath.

The crowd was stone silent until the young man finished his outstanding performance -- W\ had heard that he was a winner of many dance competitions.

At his last step, the people erupted into thunderous, long-lasting applause for many minutes. I was heartened by the crowd's response, even though I did not yet know about my own native heritage. I thought about the indigenous peoples in the eastern part of our country that were forced westward onto reservations, but whose ancestors and descendants defended America anyway, in every war from the American Revolution, forward, especially as code talkers in WWII.

As a teenager, the Marine had not only embraced military duty, but also the culture of his native nation and that of non-indigenous America. It was a day for me to remember.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Southwestern American Hoop DanceVal Shadowhawk does the Victory Dance.State Dept. photo by Ken White. Wylie Bearstail of the Hidatsa/Arikara tribes of North Dakota dances at the National Pow Wow.
Southwestern American Hoop Dance
Southwestern American Hoop Dance | Source
Val Shadowhawk does the Victory Dance.
Val Shadowhawk does the Victory Dance. | Source
State Dept. photo by Ken White. Wylie Bearstail of the Hidatsa/Arikara tribes of North Dakota dances at the National Pow Wow.
State Dept. photo by Ken White. Wylie Bearstail of the Hidatsa/Arikara tribes of North Dakota dances at the National Pow Wow. | Source

Current Native Celebrations

The Native American Indian Center in Central Ohio or NAICCO and its partner organizations sponsor regional pow wows on national patriotic holidays, especially in Ohio.

The events are held alternately in local state and county parks, on fairgrounds, and at other large venues in t he state. The NAICCO leadership focuses on three large yearly pow wows that honor our veterans and labor force workers on Memorial Day Weekend, July Fourth, Labor Day Weekend.

Independence celebration pow wows and "Indian" rodeos occur in several communities around Ohio and the nation to celebrate our freedom from England.

Source

Native peoples from all over North America attend and compete in traditional dancing and drumming competitions, enjoyed by thousands of visitors and occurring almost every month in our country.

Indigenous-owned businesses from Canada and USA showcase their products and services at these pow wow, including fine arts, various crafts, dance demonstrations, teepee raising, and other events. One newer offering includes digital productions of traditional storytelling, dances, history, and crafts.

Native Americans own and operate the same types of businesses that all other Americans make a success. The operate casino hotels, large farms, dairy operations, a number of green industries, manufacturing businesses, environmental concerns, museums and tourist retreats, health services, and many others. The richest tribe in America holds special events during July Fourth Week.

The Great Mohican Indian Pow Wow is held a few days after the holiday in Loudonville, Ohio with information at MohicanPowWow.com.

An additional annual Pow Wow in Ohio is held during the second or third week of July in Waterford. Named "Honor Our Veterans Pow Wow," it celebrates not only indigenous service men and women, but all American service man and women, past and present.

Check your local news and events announcements for special July Fourth native celebrations in your area.

Some July Annual Pow Wows in the USA and Canada

Event
Date
Gordon First Nation Pow Wow, Canada
June 30 - July 2
Ermineskin Cree Nation, Western Canada
June 30 - July 2
Mashpee Wampanoag Pow Wow, MA
July 1 - July 3
Green Corn Dance Powwow and Gathering, Courtland VA
July 1
ll Tribes Recovery Pow Wow, Eljon CA
July 1
Monroe Pow Wow, Ohio
July 1 - July 3
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Pow Wow, NY
July 1 - July 4
National Pow Wow, Danville IN
July 6 - July 9
Strong Sun Pow Wow, NC
July 7 - July 9
Children of Many Colors Pow Wow, Moorpark CA
July 14 - July 16
Keweenaw Bay Maawanji'iding, Baraga MI
July 21 - July 23
Inter Tribal Wolf Creek Pow Wow, Bland VA
July 21 - July 23
Indian Hills Pow Wow, Oklahoma OK
Last weekend in July

Montage

Couples' Rabbit Dance

Comments and Event Announcements

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      Hi Julian -

      That's really interesting. What native nations performed at the UK Pow Wow? There are also some non-native groups that study the traditional dances and cremonies and demonstrate them in full regalia - I've never attended one of those events, but have seen them on YouTube. One group is from a Scandinavian country, if I recall correctly.

    • profile image

      Julian Weller  8 years ago

      I have been interested in the culture and history i have been to a pow wow in uk and enjoyed it but really would like to attend a pow wow in USA , hope it does not offend any one .

    • New Day profile image

      New Day 9 years ago from Western United States

      Patty, I grew up in Washington State and one of my earliest memories from 1st or 2nd grade (in the early 1970s) is when we all made Native American vests and were taught dances by one of the boys in my class - and his father. It was so wonderful to learn about this other culture. I still remember the impact of those lessons over 30 years later. New Day.

    • stutin profile image

      stutin 9 years ago

      Right on! I am always taken by the wonderful history of Native Americans, I think it is great that they have their unique culture and sense of recognition in America

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Yes, when I attend, I don't want to leave. Everyone is very friendly, sponsors, native performers and presenters, visitors, everyone - I've never heard a harsh word at one of them.

      A Methodist minister in western Ohio is part of a remnant band trying to purchases back some previously held lands around Dayton, Yellow Springs, etc. He is the descendant of a tribal storyteller and he does the stories himself in full native clothing and the face paint the signifies the story teller. His videos are very good as well. His voice is soothing and the stories fascinating.

      I'm 3/8 Mohawk, as far as I can trace.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Great hub Patty.  I am part Kiowa/Kansa myself, so I found this hub to be very interesting.  I love the pow wows I have been to in the past, which are a great all day event in my opinion. 

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Chef Jeff, thank you very much for adding your contribution to this Hub. It has brought insight for people to gather up and take with them. The Germans seem to know where we all came from, somehow - a little like the Aborignals' Dream time - passing back through time while still being here - I have had that experince as well.

      Tater2Tot - It was my pleasure to answer this request for you. The research into First Peoples around the world is never ending. I find that more and more indigenous people share some of the same blood characteristics - Oceana indigenous peoples and Native Americans (I did a few Hubs); particular relationship words are shared by Iroquois and Zulu. it is all jaw-dropping.

      Best wishes! Happy 4th!   

    • Tater2tot profile image

      Tater2tot 9 years ago from ~~~

      Wow. I want to attend a Pow Wow. Those dances are amazing. They must work really hard because they are so perfect with the other dances and hitting every beat. I have a little Native in me also. But very little.

      Those pictures are absolutely gorgeous, I can see why you like it so much.

      great hub. You did a fantastic job and it was very interesting. Thanks for answering my request.

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      In the Wisconsin Dells just north of where I live the First People perform for tourists, but everyone who goes to see the dances, who listens to the stories, and who knows anything at all about First People, learns something new.  It's more than just a dog & pony show.

      In my family the legend is that we have First People blood as well, from the Trail of Tears, when one of our female ancestors was adopted into a family in St. Louis.  I don't know the truth of it, and my research leaves it an open question.

      Just the same, after I met other members of our family, people I didn't even knew existed until about 10 years ago, they also told of the same legend.

      Whether or not I have First People's blood in me, I have learned a lot about the truths of the First People, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But I do know that in these times First People and immigrant-heritage people live together, work together and intermarry.

      I also found it somewhat interesting that so many Germans believe they are reincarnated First People.  Some of my relatives in Germany & Holland. whose families did not emigrate to America, actually know in their hearts that in a former life they were First People.  And to them, it's more than just some silly desire - it's a matter of fact, in their eyes.  Somehow, I can't bring myself to disagree with them.