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Santa Rosa Creeks Hold Annual Pow Wow

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Native Americans from various tribes around the nation joined the Santa Rosa County Creeks this weekend, for their 27th annual pow-wow and fundraiser. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports.

Tribal members, men, women and children, were dressed in traditional Creek finery from head to toe. About a half dozen dancers were inside the grass circle after being “smudged” – receiving smoke from a burning combination of white sage, tobacco, and sweet grass. Helping with the smudging was Eddie Milstead, aka Standing Wolf.

“The purpose behind the smudging is to get rid of all the evil and the bad, and bring in the good,” said Milstead. “Everything you touch, you pick something up, whether it be bad or good. This is a way to get rid of all the bad.”

A pow wow is a social gathering held by many different Native American communities. They may be private or public – in this case, the event at the Creek Tribal Grounds on Willard Norris Road was very much public. Tribal Vice Chief Dan Helms says it’s a great opportunity to network with other tribes.

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Tribal members march around the Grass Circle at the 27th annual Santa Rosa Creek pow wow on Sunday

“The main tenet of the Native American people is harmony,” said Helms. “We’ve always strived to live in harmony with nature and with each other. This is an opportunity to come together, have fellowship, and just create a harmonious environment.”

Besides socializing, the pow wow honors Native American culture through dance and song. On this day, the Grand Entry into the grass circle kicked off the festivities.

The Grand Entry involved tribal members and military veterans, led by three flag bearers carrying the Stars and Stripes, the Creek banner, and the POW-MIA flag.

Native American artifacts were on display, and the Santa Rosa Creeks’ genealogist answered questions about ancestry. Tribal Elder storytellers entertained younger visitors along with food and vendors.

Also on hand was Cody Coe, a South Dakota resident and member of the Dakota Sioux tribe. A professional and competitive Native American dancer, he was dressed in a hand-made outfit, and by the way, Native American regalia are not “costumes," of tan and brown which remains a work in process.

“I’m a northern plains traditional dancer,” said Coe. “It’s a plain-styled outfit that represents the warriors of our people.”

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Cody Coe of the Dakota Sioux tribe, dances at the 27th annual Santa Rosa Creek pow wow on Sunday.

After his weekend visit to Santa Rosa County, Coe will be in Atmore next week, for the Poarch Creek Annual Pow Wow. He says such events are important to keep Native American heritage alive.

“This is a social event; this helps the next generation of being proud of who they are,” Coe said. “To see us out here dancing, maybe one day they’ll come out in the circle for us.”

Meanwhile, work continues on the 4,000 square foot Native American cultural center. The outside of the facility is up, and Vice Chief Dan Helms says completion is set for some time next spring.                        

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.