We attended the 19th annual Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival at Sunset Valley*, Texas on Saturday, November 6. “Passing Down the Legacy” is the theme of this event.
The daylong festival and Powwow included dance and wardrobe competitions in the Gourd Dance, Men’s Traditional, Straight, Grass and Fancy Dances; Women’s Buckskin, Fancy Shawl, Jingle Dress and Southern Cloth Dances along with the Junior Boys and Girls Dance and the Tiny Tots Dance. It takes more than feathers, leather and beads to make a pow wow dancer.
It takes years of perfection and continuity to become a dancer.
There would be no pow wow without a drum. The drum sings songs for all occasions: contest song, birthday song, veteran songs and etc.The drum is made from a wooden shell covered in rawhide. The sticks are thin fiberglass rods with a leather handle and padded leather head. Most drums write their own songs. This task requires talent and blessings.
“There are approximately 70,000 American Indians with an estimated 2,000 living in and around the Austin area. Second only to California in population size. Of the tribes known as Texas Indians are the Alabama-Coushatta, Apache, Atakapan, Caddo, Couhuiltecan, Comanche, Jumano, Karankawas, Kickapoo, Texas Cherokee, Tigua, Tonkawas and Wichita.
As the drums beat and the flute plays and the creation of powerful American Indian dances and colorful wardrobes of the dancers it can be said that Native American civilization acted as the foundation for one of the most fundamental parts of. U.S. civilization.”
The Heritage Stage was hosted by Dr. Mario Garza and Maria Rocha and featured stories and music performances for all ages.
An artists’ market featuring American Indian crafts and skills adjoined the arena as well as a food court and picnic area. This event was free of charge to the general public and held at Austin Independent School District’s(AISD) Tony Burger Center at 3000 Jones Drive.
The Powwow and Festival began in 1991 and continues through today thanks to the sponsorships of the American Indian Education Project (AIEP), Native American Parent Committees(NAPC) and AISD amongst others.
*Sunset Valley is a small township adjoining Austin, Texas in Southwest Travis County.