Traditions get passed down at Native American pow wow - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Traditions get passed down at Native American pow wow

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TAZEWELL COUNTY, VA (WVVA) -

Native Americans from across the region, some from as far away as Texas, converged at a pow wow in Tazewell County this weekend.

Southwest Virginia Community College played host to the 7th annual 'Drums of the Painted Mountain' Pow Wow this weekend. Linda Ward and Rick Clifton were in attendance. Their grandfather had been looking for a venue to host a pow wow, when Clifton says their grandfather received a phone call from the college's president, Mark Estepp. Clifton says, "It's because of all the history of Painted Mountain, and there's a lot of Native American artifacts found at Fort Witten. There's also 400-and-some bodies buried in one field up there."
From cathedrals to tents, many people of faith conduct their worship inside a structure. But for the Native Americans here, a consecrated circle served as their worship grounds. Nelson 'Redhawk' Bell explains the purpose of their dancing is... "Which is to honor Him. Prayer is dance, dance is prayer. The heartbeat, or what we call grandfather, is the drum. It's very much to the human heartbeat. And when these dancers dance, they're always in rhythm."  
From dreamcatchers to tomahawks to handcrafted pottery, there were many items for sale at the pow wow. But Ward says it's the traditions, not the arts and crafts, that are the focus. "It's really about family. And we try to look at grandpas and mothers, and stuff that's passed down to generations... and it's getting less and less. We're just trying to bring it back, like they lived back then."
 

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