3-day Nanticoke Indian Powwow returns after COVID absence

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 9/11/21

MILTON — The hustle bustle of nearby Coastal Highway between Milton and Lewes has replaced trees and woody serenity of rural Millsboro.

After skipping 2020 due to COVID, Nanticoke Indian …

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3-day Nanticoke Indian Powwow returns after COVID absence

The Nanticoke Powwow runs until Sunday.
Special to the Delaware State News/Jason Minto


MILTON — The hustle bustle of nearby Coastal Highway between Milton and Lewes has replaced trees and woody serenity of rural Millsboro.

After skipping 2020 due to COVID, Nanticoke Indian Powwow has returned in 2021, at a new location — spacious Hudson Fields for the three-day event that runs wraps up Sunday.

Friday was reserved as a vendor preview.

Back for yet another Nanticoke Powwow is General B. Grant, owner of Traditional Hands Native American jewelry and art.

“My major livelihood is making jewelry,” said Mr. Grant, an Eastern Band Cherokee from Cherokee, North Carolina. “I’ve been doing that for over 40 years. I am a master silversmith, and I do everything. I have a certain clientele that follows me in my work. They are collectors in fine art, collectors in jewelry and collectors of General Grant.

“When you collect art, something that is handmade, then it’s an investment that you can recover your finances on later on. You can make a pretty good return,” said Mr. Grant. “It’s called speculating.”

With authenticity the name of the game, Mr. Grant says he has a slight advantage over his distant ancestors in making beads and jewelry.

“They used a stick, sand and water to make a bead. That was the process,” Mr. Grant said. “But today I have modern technology which I can make a bead in a fraction of that time.”

A seasoned storyteller, Ragghi Rain of Selbyville has been participating in Nanticoke Indian Powwows for “forever and a day.” She views the Powwow’s move from Millsboro as a new chapter while retaining the past.

“I have thoughts that where there are stories there will be more stories, and that we will come together as a people, for that we are resilient,” said Ms. Rain, an Eastern Cherokee Native American. “We have learned from our ancestors, from our great-grandparents, from our grandparents and our parents that you must continue to move forward. But hang on – tight - to the things that they have taught you, and to live it, not just speak it.”

Powwow staff, workers and dancers can work up hearty appetites. Marvin Harris and his Messy’s BBQ Shack was there Saturday to fill empty bellies with chicken barbeque and other tasty fixings.

“They hired me to cater for workers and dancers,” said Ms. Harris. “This is my first year being with the Powwow. I know a lot of the dancers and the workers here. I’m excited to help them and show them what I can bring to the table.”

Friday evening, workers, dancers - and some curious folks from the public — got a no charge taste of Messy’s pig roast. “Everybody is coming so we’re feeding everybody,” Mr. Harris said.

Saturday was the big day, featuring traditional dance sessions, drummers and heritage and cultural events. The 2021 Nanticoke Powwow features new additions that include a car show, bird show, Brandywine Zoo with focus on children and conservation and nature and special dance performances. A special 9/11 remembrance was held Saturday.

Sunday’s schedule will begin with church services at 8:30 and 10 a.m. with one dance session and Grand Entry at noon.

Mr. Johnson believes the new venue will be a good fit, although there may be an adjustment period.

“I’m an old hand — a regular,” Mr. Johnson said. “I look around here and there ain’t no trees. But I like it. It’s open space and a new venue. When you start a new program at a different place … a lot of people don’t follow the change. I’m afraid it’s going to be a little bit slow but if the media does its job, then we’ll have an increase in attendance.”