Native Americans return to Ontelaunee Park
For three days in May, dancers and families of Native Americans take over Ontelaunee Park.
On May 17, demonstrations were given for school children about how the Native American lived.
Then, Saturday and Sunday were given over to powwows with the grand entries beginning at noon.
Barry Lee, of Conestoga, a member of the Munsee tribe was the announcer. He gave the program for the opening as the grand entry, words of prayer, a flag song with the posting of the flags for all military units, an honoring of veterans and first responders and a song.
The prayer, given by WG Elkspirit Bass, said, “It’s a beautiful thing for all nations to get along in the world. There is a lot of love. I don’t know how you pray but I hope you will pray to whomever makes you comfortable.
Embrace what we know of this day of laughter. We thank you for so much because of all these gifts. We thank you and continue to be one nation, one people. “I am thankful for the love and acceptance of all my brothers and sisters. We are one human race, one with all humanity.”
Anyone who is a veteran, first responder such as police, ambulance crews and firemen were asked into the arena to be honored.
Barry said, “We do this in every event. They get more recognition now. When I was in Vietnam there was no recognition but that has changed. We appreciate what you’ve done, what you are doing.”
After circling the arena people turned to the outside of the circle and shook hands with each person.
Two Many Feathers provided a vocal, understood by few, enjoyed by all.
Barry said many of the dances were intertribal carrying out the theme of one nation. Anyone is welcome to participate with or without regalia.
Angel Thundercrow made his complicated regalia. He said his family is on a Blackfoot Reservation out west, but his little (immediate) family is with him.
“We come to share traditions,” he said. His family is one of four tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy and has good schools.
Diane Hummingbird is the lead dancer, a position she held for many years. Accompanying her is lead man Eddie Elksong, a guitar builder. They lead the dancers around the arena. Elksong was carrying a turtle shell rattle.
Kai Lukity-Mazepa, 9, has been drumming for a long time but the first time he played in the area it was a big deal, said his father.
There were only two who danced the butterfly dance with their large shawls spread wide as the butterfly’s wings
Barry displayed a copy of the wampum belt given when William Penn and the natives held hands in an agreement. The three lines were for the Susquehanna, Schuylkill and Delaware rivers that meet where the tribes and Penn met. The belt sealed the fact that they could all live together.
Philadelphia was the only city that did not need a stockade because of this agreement.
A stump dance followed to affirm the covenant. It used a different dance step that Barry illustrated.
Ernie Strong Bear of the Cherokee tribe, part of the Southeastern Confederation, on his last hunt killed a deer and made his father a headdress which he now wears since his father has gone on. He said the family was amazed. He added that the regalia was done with these hands and the help of the creator.