Independence Day for the Native American - July 4, Labor Day and Veterans Day Customs
First Peoples and Native Americans
My favorite 4th of July occurred as a youth some years ago in Washington DC. On the mall, returning Viet Nam service men from all of our country's branches of the armed forces gathered with other people to celebrate the holiday. There was a gathering of Native American nations as well, but not yet formalized into a national Pow Wow. it was a festival among other celebrations.
A nineteen-year old US Marine came forward to the speaker's stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He was offically recognized for accomplishments in battle and then walked off to prepare for another presentation. In a few minutes, he returned in full southwestern Native American ceremonial dance attire and performed for the crowd with traditional music and dummers in accompaniment.
Would they laugh at him? Would they throw stones at him for being a member of the military during an unpopular conflict?
The crowd was stone silent until the young man finished his outstanding performance - he was a winner of many dance competitions - and then thepeople erupted into thunderous, long-lasting applause. I was heartened by the crowd's response, even though I did not yet know about my own native hertiage. I thought about the people that were forced back westward onto reservations, but whose descendants defended America anyway, in every war afterward, especially WWII and Viet Nam.
As a teenager the Marine had not only embraced a military duty, but the culture of his native nation along with that of non-native America. it was a day for me to remember.
Team Grass Dance
The Native American Indian Center in Central Ohio (NAICCO) and partner orgnizations sponsor regional Pow Wows on national holidays in Ohio.They are held alternately in local state and county parks, on fairgrounds, and at other large venues. The Native American Indian Center focuses on two large yearly Pow Wows that honor our nations veterans and workers on Memorial Day Weekend and on Labor Day Weekend. July 4th activities occur in smaller venues in Central Ohio and larger locations across the state.
After years of marching in 4th of July Parades and enduring the organizational convolutions of such events, I've opted for the Pow Wows, nature, doing some errands for a few senior citizens, and then enjoying nature with friends.
Native Americans from all over North America attend and compete in traditional dancing and drumming competitions. Native North American businesses from Canada and USA showcase their products and services, and this includes much more than the find arts and crafts most people expect at such an event. One newer offering included digital productions of traditional stry telling, dances, history, and crafts.
Native Americans own and operate the same types of businesses that all other Americans make a success -- Not only Casino Hotels, but large farms and other green industries, manufacturing businesses, environmental concerns, museums and tourist retreats, health services, and many others.
The Great Mohican Indian Pow Wow is held a few days after the 4th of July in Loudonville OH and the link is: MohicanPowWow.com.
An additional Pow Wow is held yearly during the second or third week of July in Waterford, Ohio. 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.
Pow Wows across the nation can be found at: PowWows.com, since 1996 and on several state and tribal websites.