Waccamaw PauWau – Lindsay Weirich

On November 6th, a few friends and I headed out toward Aynor, South Carolina, to attend a Waccamaw PowWow with our Anth102 Understanding Other Cultures class. It was a bit chilly that day, but it did not deter people from coming. A breeze floated by, carrying the smell of sweetgrass incense and homemade vegetable soup. There were people there in all sorts of native outfits, feather bustles on their backs and crowns of feathers on their heads. Jingle, jingle went the bells on their feet as they danced to the sound of a beating drum and the voices of the people, singing songs of origin– songs with feeling.

Everyone stopped and stared at the men around the drum. Soon, a person came out into the sacred circle, and opened with a heartfelt thank you to our veterans. They danced around in a clockwise motion to deliver flags to their designated place inside the sacred circle. There were grass dancers and fancy dancers, jingle dresses, and shawl dancers everywhere.

We watched for a while, and then decided to check out the merchandise. Atlatls, necklaces, rabbit’s feet, medicine pouches of turtle shell, beadwork, furs, dream catchers, and shells filled the shelves and caught everyone’s eye as they passed. And everyone got a kick out of the dog lying in front of a shop, traditionally dressed in leather, complete with a fur mohawk and turtle shell medicine pouch. He just sat there staring back!

We moseyed back to our sitting area in time to catch the blanket dance, a dance to raise money for the people who sang and beat on the drum. They had to come from a long way. The women moved clockwise in the circle dancing as they carried the blanket. After that, a man played the flute and interpreted the music and origin for us. One was about a man hunting a deer, and he prayed to the Creator that he would use it to feed his family. On his forth arrow he struck the deer, and he buried its heart to return its spirit to the Creator. The songs were all very beautiful, and the man was extremely talented. After listening to some songs, we decided to leave and get some much needed coffee. I am so glad we got to experience this, and we hope to come back next year for more fun!

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