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Paumanauke Pow Wow aims to keep culture going

The annual Paumanauke Pow Wow took place at

The annual Paumanauke Pow Wow took place at Babylon Town Hall Park in Lindenhurst on Saturday, and will continue Sunday.  Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Men and women kept time to the slow beat of a drum Saturday outside Babylon Town Hall at the 39th annual Paumanauke Pow Wow.

The Lindenhurst event drew dancers from 13 tribal nations and vendors selling traditional food, jewelry and accessories. Money raised from the pow wow goes toward scholarships for Native Americans heading to college.

“It’s the only way to keep our culture going,” said pow wow president Tony Langhorn. “We’ve been doing this for 3,000 years.”

The festival opened with the grand entry, in which the participants danced around a circle and were introduced to the crowd.

Horace Painted Buffalo Lucas of the Cherokee tribe and vice president of the Paumanauke festival, entered the circle first, gently patting his feet to rhythmic chanting and beating drums. About 30 others followed, wearing tunics covered in elegant beading and elaborate headpieces covered in long feathers.

Booths were arranged around the circle where people bought food and inspected handmade crafts, including the dreamcatchers that swung in the breeze at one stand. Jeanette Nathan of the Lakota tribe has been selling her dreamcatchers at the pow wow for more than 25 years.

She strings each one by hand, lacing crystals into the centers of some and hanging feathers from the ends of others. Nathan, of Middle Island, says she's excited that next year's pow wow will return to Tanner Park in Copiague.   

The festival had been held there for years but was moved to the much smaller grounds outside Town Hall about eight years ago, Langhorn said. In the past at the larger venue they had drawn as many as 80 vendors and could raise more money for scholarships. This year there were about 30 vendors. 

At the pow wow Saturday, Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer announced that the 40th festival would return to its original home.

As Christiana Brackett, 13, of Mastic, prepared to step back into the circle, her mother, Tamara Pinckney, carefully placed a feather in her daughter’s braids. Brackett wore a long purple garment covered in metal cones that clanged against each other as she nimbly stepped around the circle. Mother and daughter are members of the Unkechaug nation.

“I try to keep my daughter involved to keep the culture going, so hopefully she can share it with the next generation,” Pinckney said.

The pow wow continues Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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