Poarch’s annual gathering of the tribes is Thursday, Friday
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Report
Poarch Band of Creek Indians will present this week the 51st edition of the tribe’s Thanksgiving Pow Wow, which was formed in 1971 as a homecoming celebration for PBCI tribal members and has been held every year but two (during the COVID pandemic) since then.
The two-day affair — set for Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 23) and Friday (November 24) — is expected to draw more than 15,000 people, including dancers and drummers from 20 tribal nations across the U.S. who will compete for more than $125,000 in prize money.
“Pow Wow is our biggest event of the year, and one we look forward to celebrating,” PCBI Tribal Chair Stephanie Bryan said in a press release. “It is a wonderful opportunity for us to share more about our vibrant culture and rich tradition, as well as our history, with those visiting.”
The Poarch Creeks, descended from the original Creek Nation, were able to avoid being uprooted from the land they have inhabited for thousands of years, unlike many of the Creek and other tribes in the southeast.
The local tribe, Alabama’s only federally recognized Native American nation, has shown its appreciation and celebrated its cultural roots over the years with presentation of the holiday gathering.
PBCI first started in the 1980s welcoming outside tribes — and the public — to the sharing of its traditions through “a wholesome weekend of cultural appreciation and family-friendly fun” on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, on the original tribal land.
This year’s event will include dance contests for men and women of all ages, with cash prizes ranging from “day money” for the youngest winners, to $1,000 for the winners of each adult and junior adult category. The top-5 dancers in each category from Platinum to Junior Adult will earn cash, while the top 4 will do so in the Teen and Junior divisions.
The drum contest, for which each entry must have at least eight singers, has the biggest payoff, with $12,000 going to the winner, $10,000 to the runners-up and $8,000 to the third-place team. In all, the top seven drum groups will share $43,000.
Thomas Rolin will serve as Head Dance Judge, with Alex Alvarez serving as Head Drum Judge.
The festival will also feature unique crafts and goods for sale by local artisans or vendors, along with an array of food favorites from barbeque to fire-roasted corn, buffalo burgers, ham, fried chicken and turkey and dressing.
One of the Pow Wow’s most popular features, the annual Poarch Creek Indian Princess Contest, will take place around 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Once crowned, the princesses will serve as tribal ambassadors throughout the year at public events, as well as tribal gatherings, all across the United States.
The exciting Grand Entry will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday and at 12 p.m. on Friday.
There will also be a pre-Pow Wow 5K Turkey Trot run that will take place from 7 a.m. until about 9 a.m. The Boyz, Cozad and Medicine Tail will be the host drums for the Pow Wow; Juaquin Hamilton will be the emcee; and Dude Blalock is the Arena Director.
Gates will open at 10 a.m. each day. Admission is $10 for one day or $15 for both. Children ages 6 and under will be admitted free.
Poarch’s Pow Wow Grounds is located about two miles north of Interstate 65, off Jack Springs Road (County Road 1), and signs will direct attendees to the parking area.