The Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe consists of over 4,000 enrolled members with most living in Halifax and Warren counties. The name Haliwa comes from a combination of these two counties, and in 1979, they added the name Saponi because they are descendants from the Saponi people of Virginia and North Carolina.
I was honored to learn about their culture in April when the girls and I had the opportunity to attend their 48th Annual Pow-wow. We walked the tribal grounds with my mom (the director of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School) and observed just a small amount of what happens behind the scenes before the pow-wow begins.
There were vendors with amazing Native American food. We tried two varieties of Indian fry bread one with honey and powdered sugar, another with chili, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and sour cream. YUM!! We also tried buffalo burger. Again, YUM!! The buffalo did not seem to have as much fat and was more dense than regular ground beef. It was really good! My girls liked the fry bread, but I think they were more impressed by the buffalo burger.
There were many beautiful and unique things to look at. The talent of those participating in the pow-wow was amazing. The beadwork, paintings, carvings, jewelry, and more were all so breathtaking!
As those who were participating began to dress for their performances, we were able to witness even more beautiful artwork. Even their hair was an art form. I watched as the girls had their hair done in awe. I wanted my girls’ hair to grow to their waists overnight so I could fix it as beautifully as they did. haha
Their regalia (the outfits worn during performances) were also breathtaking. Many of them make their own regalia, I cannot imagine how many hours it must take. This video shows some of the pieces that have been made by one family. Again, the artwork is breathtaking!
Finally, the performances were beginning. The drummers and singers were so talented. Each region has their own style of song and dance. Men and women of all ages were dancing, singing, and drumming. One father said, about his toddler, He started dancing before he could walk! Based on the ages of some of these adorable little dancers, I believe that!
As the dancers entered the arena, they entered as groups based on the type of dance they were performing. While we watched all of these talented dancers, a couple of things really stood out to me.
Everyone that wanted to dance was included. There were dancers with obvious disabilities, one young man was dancing with the same talent as his fellow dancers, but he had the assistance of his walker. Also, those who were registered dancers entered the arena first, but I also heard them invite others who were not registered to enter the arena during the parade of dancers.
Also, the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe holds those who have served our country and their families at an honorable level of respect. They had members of the tribe who had served in the military as the color guard who presented the flags at the beginning of the procession of dancers and afterwards, they invited all of the active duty and veteran soldiers, and some of their family members, to join them in the arena. This warmed my heart since so many times I think we, as a society, forget what these men and women give up to serve our country.
Finally, we had the opportunity to meet many members of the tribe and the girls had their pictures taken with some of them. On our way back to South Carolina, the girls serenaded me with several hours of Native American song and declared they were going to become Indians like the people at the pow-wow so they can have those beautiful outfits, and sing and dance like all of those pretty girls.
The girls and I have declared this to be an ultimate homeschool field trip!