Nanticoke Powwow brings culture and heritage to a new location and audience
MILTON, Del. – For the Nanticoke Indians, tradition is everything. Sunday they spread the beauty of their culture through dances, art, and music; shedding light on their rich history not only Sussex County, but the entire state. “I believe the Nanticoke’s have a story to tell and we really haven’t told the story yet but we’re working on it,” says Natosha Carmine, Chief of the Nanticoke Tribe. Not only was the tribe able to bring back the powwow in person, but this year was the first year they held it at Hudson Fields in Milton, Delaware.
We’re told although this is the 43rd annual Powwow, the tradition goes back almost 100 years. The first powwows date back to the early 1930’s. Dance Arena director, Urie Ridgeway tells us, “Let them know hey we’re still here our culture is still evolving it’s still growing we have a beautiful culture and we continue to practice it.”
Each year, gives the Nanticoke tribe a chance to share the ever evolving culture and traditions with other Delawareans. “When we go into the dance arena for the grand entry everyone goes in prayerfully honoring their ancestors or elders teaching their children and their grandchildren what the culture is about what the traditions are,” says Chief Carmine.
Each dance, whether traditional, contemporary, grass dances, or toe dances, embodies a part of the Nanticoke’s heritage. We’re told, the tribe can date back their ancestors and their traditions in Delaware to the 1500s. “And we are still in our homeland, a lot of communities can’t do that a lot of nations can’t say that, a lot of nations can’t say they still reside in their original homeland, but we can still say that,” says Ridgeway.
While the tribe is trying to preserve their history, they say they’re also using this opportunity, to look into their future. “It’s us, it’s the Nanticoke, it’s the Native Americans community and the drums and the dances are all special in their own right in their own way,” says Chief Carmine. Ridgeway adds, “Passing that along taking a knowledge from the past applying it to what we have now and giving it to the youth so we can carried on into the future.”
Tribe members also tell us, they’re working to preserve and revive their native language. They’re also working to update and keep the Nanticoke Indian museum in Millsboro.