The 25th annual Robert Woolery Sr. Memorial Pow Wow will take place in Sedalia next weekend, with three days of dancing, jewelry, fry bread, arrowheads, and Native American history.
The Pow Wow is provided by the Native American Council for Cultural Awareness, a local organization that visits schools and other places to give demonstrations and provide information about modern and traditional Native American music and cultures.
Native American blood runs in the veins of those heading the organization. Robert Sr.’s son, Bob Wooler, has an Osage and Cherokee heritage, while his daughter-in-law Dolores is Lipan Apache. The Woolery family started it all, but it has grown to some 30 members who help put on the Pow Wow every year.
“My oldest daughter was in fourth grade when her teacher was teaching during Thanksgiving time about Native Americans, and she was telling my daughter there are no Native Americans anymore,” Dolores said. “She was given a detention for arguing with the teacher. But we are Native Americans. My husband, he called the school and offered to give a demonstration. Now schools call us all the time to give demonstrations.”
Festivities include a menu of Indian-style food as well as shopping with traders, watching dancers and listening to the drum. Dolores said she prepares the fry bread herself and combines it with a number of ingredients to make familiar foods, but Indian-style.
“I make fry bread at the Pow Wow and sometimes I’ll wrap a hot dog in it and deep fry it,” Dolores said. “You can make fry bread by itself and have it with honey or sugar or plain. I also make fry bread with pinto beans, hamburger, lettuce, picante sauce and cheese on top, and that’s an Indian taco.”
Dolores said vendors will be selling a variety of Native American items which they made themselves, such as beaded jewelry, sterling silver rings, necklaces and earrings, leather toys, candy and other knick-knacks.
“We had one vendor that came that sold polished stones,” Dolores said. “One man came and he made arrowheads and he showed how he made them. We had a knife-sharpening man that made knives and sharpened knives, and a flute maker.”
A line-up of dances are schedule for all three days, with the first dance at 7 p.m. July 17. The next day, July 18, includes a gourd dance at 1 p.m., an intertribal from 3 to 6 p.m., and a grand entry at 7 p.m.
Dolores said the gourd dance is especially for veterans and family members.
“It’s a different dance from the intertribal because they wear what’s called the battle blankets,” Dolores said. “It’s red on one side and blue on the other. It’s in honor of our veterans.”
The final dance is at 1 p.m. July 19. A stomp dance is planned at the conclusion of both Friday and Saturday dances. Times are approximate for all dances. Dolores said the stomp dance could go until the sun comes up if enough people participate. The dance is led by what is called a shell shaker.
“She’ll have tin cans wrapped around her legs, and they’ll be laced together, maybe about 12 of them, and she dances and she stomps her feet in a way that makes the shaking noise,” Dolores said. “Sometimes in the old days they were made out of turtle shells. There will be a man in front of her who sings a song while she’s behind him shaking, and sometimes there will be another man and another shaker… and they’ll dance in a circle.”
However, Dolores’ favorite dances are the jingle and the buckskin because her daughters and granddaughters participate in them.
Some faces to watch for at the Pow Wow include: Bob Woolery, master of ceremonies; Bill Branson, head man dancer; Stephanie Reyes-Hayes, head lady dancer; Chanté Falcon, princess; and Roger Crane and Shane Adams, arena directors.
As the princess, Falcon represents the Robert Woolery Sr. Memorial Pow Wow at other pow wows across the country.
“When she travels to a pow wow, she wears a banner,” Woolery said. “Wherever she dances in the United States, she wears that banner to show that she represents our Pow Wow.”
Guests are advised to bring their own chairs or sit on the bleachers. No drugs, alcohol, firearms or weapons are permitted at the event, and smoking is not permitted indoors. Traders are allowed by invitation only.
While it’s too late to join as a trader for this year’s Pow Wow, traders can receive an application starting as early as next spring so they can get on the list, because space is limited.
The 25th annual Robert Woolery Sr. Memorial Pow Wow will take place July 17-19 on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The event has free admission and is open to the public, with free parking and entertainment, in the Agriculture Building.
To receive a trader application or receive more information about the Pow Wow, contact Bob Woolery at [email protected]
Leah Wankum can be reached at 660-826-1000 or @leahwankum.