#WOMBATSDOAMERICA Day 11
Blogging our recent US trip day by day, four weeks after the event.
Friday 15th August – Crow Creek Powwow
In the morning we made cheese scones, and after that we ate cheese scones. Mary tutored Janine in the correct pronunciation of ‘scones’. We photographed most of the Rollie Bucholz collection. If you remember, these are the old documents, photo and letters pertaining to the young American pilot who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force to come to England to fight in WW2 before the US joined the war. It will be good material for a story.
In the evening, we had a quick visit to Al’s Oasis just up the road, where I was tempted by a Stetson which I stalwartly resisted and had photographic fun with a buffalo’s arse, before driving “up the rez” to Fort Thompson to visit the 152nd Crow Creek Lakota Powwow. The word ‘Wacipi’ is also used, meaning literally ‘dance’. For the uninitiated, the Lakota are the Sioux Nation, feared warriors and proud people. Lakota, I believe, means ‘friends’.
By the road sat a small funfair, with roundabouts, swing-rides, cotton candy vendors and roll-a-penny type stalls. You know the sort of thing. Looks really shoddy in daylight, but after dark with the lights shining it looks seedy rather than shoddy. In amongst the stalls sat several people in Indian dress with tiny challenges – one had a small child’s inflatable paddling pool filled with water upon which floated plastic ducks. Yes, it was “Hook a Duck”, so beloved of the funfairs of my childhood.
Across the road was a circle of benches with a grassy are in the middle. Around the edge a string of vendors sold Indian items and a variety of foodstuffs – ‘Indian frybread’ and ‘Gizzards’ amongst them. A large truck had been converted into a store that sold furs, hats, sweetgrass and the like. I bought a couple of arrowheads for a dollar as gifts to take home for Ellie and Kit.
Barry had a chat with Indian friends, and reported that the Grand Entry, scheduled for the afternoon, would not happen until mid-evening at least (this apparently is ‘Indian time’), and so we drove maybe two hundred yards (Americans, eh?) to a dingy-looking casino to eat. The food, I’m sorry to report, was not the finest in the world, being cold and tasteless. The salad bar, where heat was not such a consideration, filled me sufficiently, however.
Back to the Circle we vroomed, where we found seats on the yellow wooden benches, and waited for the Grand Entry to commence. Incense competed with fried onions for champion aroma as we gazed about, admiring the fringy, feathery, beady multi-coloured costumes. The announcer, speaking over the PA from a white pavilion, kept us entertained with quips about eating dogs, in between his more official announcements.
The drums kicked in, and I was henceforth unable to keep still. A long procession of dancers entered, led by a army veteran, wafting themselves with incense from a smoking bowl by the opening. The astonishing rainbow of colours continued to twirl and whirl into the arena. Dancers already inside the circle spiralled inward to make room for more people to enter. They were dressed magnificently, displaying every colour, every hue on their dancing fringes, feathers, beads, jingling bells and swirling shawls. Old folk, young folk and those in between all added to the eye-dazzling spectacle until upwards of a hundred Sioux dancers filled the circle. It was a proper breathtaking sight. Bloody champion.
Janine pointed out the various types of dancer – fancy dancers with their fancy outfits, grass dancers with their grass-like fringes, jingle dancers with their jingling bells, shawl dancers with their sh… you get the idea.
We returned via a quick shufti at the Big Bend Dam, the construction of which in the 1960s resulted in the dislocation of people on the Crow Creek Reservation. The flooding also resulted in the loss of limited plant life resources used by these people for food and medicine.
Back home we watched a TV show about a couple of strangers abandoned naked on an island and told to survive. ‘Uncensored Naked and Afraid’ it was called, yet disappointingly all the rude wobbly bits were blurred out. Pervy Wombat was outraged at the false advertising. Then ‘The Soup’, a show which had me laughing loudly as it poked fun at TV, presented by a wry, dry chap whose name was something like Joel McHale.