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Students see past at Pow Wow

Middle school kids attend the Mother's Day event, which is improved this year with tents to keep the sun at bay.

By MICHELLE JONES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 12, 2002

DADE CITY -- Andy Burford, 13, got a glimpse into the lives of the American Indians who lived during the 1700s at the Mother's Day Pow Wow at the Withlacoochee River Park.

He came Friday with a busload of students from Gulf Middle School in New Port Richey.

"A warrior stood guard at the round house keeping unexpected guests from going inside," he said. "It was also cool inside the round house. It is covered with wood so the sun wouldn't penetrate."

Andy and his schoolmates toured the Creek Village that has been furnished with buildings of the era. They also visited all the vendors at the Pow Wow and took home souvenirs.

"I bought some necklaces, bracelets and food," he said. "I would really like to come back."

Bryan Bates, 14, also from Gulf Middle School said he discovered that the Creeks slept inside the cabins in the winter and outside in the summer.

"I bought a flute, rock candy and a butterfly necklace," he said.

The three-day event will continue at the park until 5 p.m. today. Gates open at 9 a.m. Cost is $7 a carload.

This is the 11th annual Mother's Day Pow Wow, and this year covered tents have been added to help keep the sun off the spectators. The open air tents surround the main arena. Visitors are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

"This is known as the hottest Pow Wow going so we wanted to make people want to stay," said Ken Red Hawk Keller, the president of the Withlacoochee American Indian Historical Society, who organizes the Pow Wow along with the Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department.

Keller said about 200 school children visited the park Friday, but he would like to see more.

"The (education) budget cuts have depleted bus availability," he said.

He said they expected about 12,000 people over the weekend.

Throughout the Creek Village, people demonstrate their crafts and answer questions.

Robert Dove Corey has his homemade flutes, wildlife carvings and walking sticks on display within the village.

"I'm more of a carver than a player," he said of his skills on the Native American flutes.

Throughout the remaining two days of the Pow Wow music and dancing will take place in the arena. On Friday Melissa Moulder, 13, was one of the dancers dressed in full regalia dancing to the drums.

She said she is from Safety Harbor and her mom is Cherokee.

Wearing blue leggings, a blue dress and blue shawl, Melissa danced the dance of the butterfly.

Her brown hair was braided in the traditional manner of the fancy shawl dancers, she said.

"We wear it like this because we bounce all the time," she said. "I enjoy doing this, it is fun and the outfit is pretty."

Thirty-nine vendors form a tight circle around the grounds offering traditional arts and crafts and other items including dream catchers and talking sticks.

"When a stick is passed to someone they get to talk and everyone listens," Keller said. "Sometimes the elders will just hold the stick and say nothing. It is peaceful."

Susan Red Hawk Travis was one of the weekend campers.

"It was so cool I used a blanket last night," she said.

She carried a walking stick made by her husband, Dennis.

Hawk feathers and a bobcat head decorated the stick, which had been stripped of its bark and rubbed with oil.

She said termites created the intricate design on the wood.

-- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached toll free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4612 or (813) 909-4612. Her e-mail address is

At a glance

The Mother's Day Pow Wow continues today at Withlacoochee River Park. Gates open at 9 a.m. Cost is $7 a carload. To get to the Pow Wow, take Interstate 75 to exit 59 and then State Road 52 east to Dade City. Take U.S. 301 truck route north to River Road. Follow signs, about 5 miles, to the park.

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