35th Annual Intertribal Pow-Wow Electrifies Niceville

Event Celebrates Native Americans From Across the United States

A middle-aged man with glasses and flecks of gray in his hair and goatee looked through his sunglasses at a teenager sitting quietly at the drum circle during a pause. “I would start by mumbling the songs,” the man said to the teen, “You are in the right place, we all start somewhere.”

It’s beautiful to watch culture get handed down from person to person – especially when the culture is endangered, emcee of the event, Richard Kelly noted. 

“It’s good to know that we have preserved this – that it will be here long after I am gone,” Kelly said. There are very few people here at this pow-wow that were here when it started, but look how many people are here.”

This is the 35th annual Intertribal Powwow for Niceville – and the flags of many nations fluttered in the area as drummers and singers made music and everyone from children to old men danced in beautiful, colorful Native American regalia. The event runs November 3-5. 

Tribes closer to the Niceville area – like the Poarch Creek Indians, Seminoles and Cherokee had the strongest showing. Other tribes made it out too – and a flag from the Haudenosaunee (Iriquois) nation, which originates in Upstate New York and Ontario, Canada, flew as well.

The powwow, which was hosted on the Mullet Festival Grounds, saw Colonel Thomas Tauer, with the 96th Test Wing, addressed the crowd on behalf of the military (who now owns the land where the mullet festival grounds are located). “Native Americans, by proportion, give the most service to this country,” Kelly told the crowd as he introduced Tauer, “We are Native Americans and we protect this land.”

Saturday’s events included dancing and drumming competitions, drumming and vendors galore at the mullet festival grounds – which is just a couple of weeks past hosting the Niceville Bazaar. 

The pow-wow, which costs $5 for adults and $3 for children between the ages of 7-17 wraps up on Friday. 

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