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Native Opportunity Way’s Summer Events

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The social service organization Native Opportunity Way has just released their summer schedule, and they’re sponsoring a lot of Pow Wows and school cultural exchanges that we wanted to highlight. Let’s take a look at the upcoming events.

Their series of American Indian Cultural Exchange programs throughout the rest of the year is an effort to reach out to schools and better educate them on the American Indian history of the region and the country at large. Organizer Barry Richardson told us the goal for the cultural exchanges is to showcase American Indian heritage in as many different areas as possible. “I normally have about six dancers wearing different regalia, a storyteller (stories can range from creation tales to moral tales about right and wrong), four craft demonstrations, a tipi set-up, face painting, an MC, and the Aztec Dancers.”

The kick off event happened on May 13 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh (another event will be held here on November 18 as well), with events happening May 17-20 in Richmond, VA, Fredericksburg, VA (a second event will take place on November 4), and Howard County, MD (a second event in Howard County will take place on October 26-27). These programs go from 9am to 1:30 pm.

The Pow Wow schedule gets going on May 20-22 at the Frederick Fairgrounds in Maryland. Along with their school program, this pow wow will feature more than 100 dancers in full regalia competing for thousands of dollars in contest prizes. Keith Colston, Tuscaror/Lumbee, will MC the pow wow, with members of the Haliwa-Saponi, Coharie, Chickahominy, Cherokee, Sioux, Iroquois, Lumbee, and Navajo representing some of the tribes participating in this year’s event. The grand entry begins at noon on Friday. Along with the huge contingent of American Indian dancers, there will also be craft demonstrations, face painting for kids, a large tipi set-up, professional flutists and a very special performance Juan Salinas of the Aztec Dancers. The Salinas family, members of the Pochtecatl of Mexico, have roots all the way back to the Aztecs, and have been traveling the world for more than 40 years, sharing their heritage.

Looking ahead, Native Opportunity Way is also sponsoring the Rocky Mount Jim Thorpe Pow-Wow on June 24-26 at Sunset Park, North Carolina. Native Opportunity Way sponsors this Pow Wow to “honor Jim Thorpe’s life and contribution to society,” a press release stated. “Jim Thorpe is not known by a lot of people living in the Rocky Mount area…he bought about pride to Indian people and All Americans, he helped bridge the gap among races and paved the way for improved race relations at home and abroad. The Jim Thorpe pow-wow will be held in Rocky Mount to honor Jim Thorpe and promote cultural diversity and understanding among the races, especially as it relates to Native Americans,” the press release stated.

The legendary Thorpe’s connection to Rocky Mount plays a crucial part to one of the most infamous moments of his life—after winning the broad jump, the 200-meter, and the 1,500 meter runs of the pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, Thorpe, Sac and Fox Indian, was forced to surrender his awards at the behest of the Amateur Athletic Union to Olympic Headquarters in Switzerland due to his having played semi-professional baseball with the Rocky Mount team in the North Carolina Eastern League. Nineteen years after his death, in 1982, the medals were restored. The pow wow will include hundreds of dancers, singers, drummers, artists and crafts people, with over $10,000 in dance and drum prizes. Tribes from all over American and Canada are expected.

For more information on the pow wows (including the 18th Annual Howard County Pow Wow/American Indian Show and Festival on July 23-24 at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland) and the American Indian Education Cultural Exchange Program for Schools should send an email to Barry at or