HAMLET — Local Native Americans will share their culture Saturday during a four-hour “mini powwow” at the county fairgrounds.
The event will include music, dancing, food, storytelling and crafts as part of an attempt to educate the general public, said organizers Billy Jacobs and Bennylee Hinson Sr., both members of the Lumbee people.
“I don’t think there’s (any) better way to live … than people used to live,” Hinson said Friday. That “way,” for Native Americans, included treating elders with respect and paying homage to a great Creator.
Hinson is a traditional elder, a sort of apprentice to the Lumbee’s firestarter, who keeps the ceremonial blaze alight at spiritual gatherings each solstice and equinox. And for nearly a decade, Jacobs worked with Richmond County Schools, visiting classrooms and sharing cultural lessons.
The Lumbee have been recognized as one of eight tribes in North Carolina, but the federal government has yet to convey recognition, calling the 63,000 Lumbee alive today a “people” rather than a “tribe.” The event Saturday is part of the Lumbee’s drive to ascertain their original homeland, which Hinson said was likely to include Richmond County alongside Hoke, Robeson and Scotland.
Last year in September, he said, representatives of the Lumbee performed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which Hinson and other Lumbee considered a step toward recognition.
“We decided last year we wanted to have powwows up here” in Richmond County, Hinson said. Organizers set Memorial Day weekend as the time and held a first powwow then.
As the event and the Lumbee’s public presence in Richmond County grow, Hinson said, organizers want to start a youth club focused on American Indian culture.
“If we can get enough kids involved (in learning), we’re going to start a Lumbee boys and girls club” that will invite children of all races and cultures to join, Hinson said, because Native Americans “don’t see race” when they look into another’s eyes.
The club, he said, would give children something to keep them out of trouble by teaching them “how to be a proper man and a proper woman.”
As for Saturday, “we’re going to have a good time,” Hinson said. The event will include drumming, singing and the playing of flutes by people in native dress, as well as what Jacobs called “a little gospel singing.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]