August 24, 2007 Tribes Display Native Pride At Annual Schemitzun Festival By Meghan Couture Norwich Bulletin (CT)
NORTH STONINGTON -- Visitors to the Schemitzun Festival Thursday evening were greeted by the powerful beating of drums, colorful representations of hundreds of tribes and the smell of American Indian cuisine.
The Schemitzun Feast of Green Corn and Dance is an annual Mashantucket Pequot festival. At the East Coast's largest powwow, more than 1,000 American Indian performers from across the United States, Canada and South America wore their tribal regalia.
"I don't think the Native Americans get enough exposure," said Christine Muise of Charlestown, R.I. "This is our fourth year coming to Schemitzun, and my husband, James, has a little bit of Indian in him." More than 500 tribes represented their native culture by wearing their regalia of feathers, beads, shells and more. The regalia is sacred to the wearer and passed from generation to generation.
"I love the grand entrance," said Vandelina Esposito of New Haven. "It's my second time here, and I think it's wonderful to see all the different tribes and their colorful outfits dancing. I think it means a lot to them to keep the old traditions alive. You even see the little ones that are so young dancing and all dressed up. It's wonderful that they are keeping the culture going."
The festival features a mix of drum, song, dance, rodeo, and arts and crafts competitions.
Schemitzun also boasted a realistic Eastern Woodland village that offers live demonstrations of traditional 17th century wampum making and regalia crafting, all meant to educate and entertain non-American Indians.
"I am part of the Elnu Abenaki tribe from Vermont, and we are a sub-band of the Koesek," said Roger Longtoe as he worked on hand-carved pipes. "This is our first time here, and it is a good gathering for the Eastern peoples because it allows us to show the differences we have in culture compared to the Western peoples. The folks who visit the village learn a few new things about a mix of native culture."
WHAT'S NEXT ·Schemitzun continues through Sunday at the Wintechog Powwow Grounds at 91 Wintechog Hill Road, North Stonington, near Foxwoods Resort and Casino.
The festival runs each day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ticket pricesare $8 for adults, $4 for seniors 55 or older, and $4 for children younger than 11. Children 3 and younger are free.
Grand entries occur at 6 p.m. today and Saturday and at noon today, Saturday and Sunday.