Powwow in Terlingua
by Ara Gureghian
Spirit and I have now moved 350 miles away from Terlingua, and the Powwow I experienced there a couple weeks ago has become clearer and sharper than ever in my mind. The Spirits have followed me here, and I feel as if they have made a concrete presence in my well being. I have been thinking on how to write about the Powwow; it is a visual experience, as well as music to one’s ears, but also a feeling that comes from being present at the ceremony. I hope that some day each of you will have the chance to attend one.
I have to introduce the fact that I have always had an affinity toward the Native Americans Indians. Armenians were persecuted early in this last century, and have dispersed all around the world after losing our land. I can never help, traveling and living on the road as I do, thinking about Native Americans' own feelings toward the vast lands which one day not too long ago were theirs. And, as it is with our own Armenian heritage, the new generation of Native American Indians is rapidly losing their hold on their roots.
That is the reason why many tribes are now represented at the Powwows happening throughout the country. It is one of the few social gatherings left that follows the dances and customs begun by their ancestors centuries ago. These events of feasting, drum music and dance are also attended by non-Natives, as it was at the Powwow I attended.
Many people had driven all the way from San Antonio at great expense, not only in fuel but also in lodging costs. Powwows have an etiquette all must follow, including prohibitions against provocative clothing and alcohol. Photography is restricted. None was allowed during the Gourd Dances, and even when invited into the circle, it is customary to ask permission prior to taking a picture.
The main area is a circle called the Arena which is blessed before the ceremonies. The only entrance faces East and non-Natives can only enter it by invitation. The drummers sit in the center; they are the Heartbeat of Mother Earth. The drums act as an intercessor of the spiritual realm, bringing harmony and balance to the spectators and participants.
People found an affinity with each other created by this invisible space. I found myself getting to know most everyone. Lunch was being prepared outside the Circle and I was invited to join them. I had many questions, and truly they did as well. The knowledge that I still roam the land - in a much more modern world and way - but with the same love and respect for Mother Nature as their ancestors did many years ago, prompted their curiosity. But the questions were not asked. I don’t think there was a need for it. I think we just understood each other with much mutual respect. Words at times are not needed; there is an invisible language that sets itself between minds and is understood. I would not have missed this event for anything. I did not know the power of their presence till then. It is hard to describe. They are such proud People, as I am myself. There are no words really to define the feeling they emanated, only the word "strong" comes to mind. It was "strong".
There was a very strong Patriotic sense throughout the day as all Veterans, Natives and non-Natives, were called in by the MC for the Grand Entry following the Gourd Dances.
A picture is sometimes worth a thousand words! I do however like these words I read yesterday.
"One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves which live inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘the one you feed’.
I will seek more Powwows throughout our journey as I hope you do someday. In Terlingua, the Chisos Mountains were in the background reflecting the dances and spirits - an added attraction that made it even more of an emotional experience.
Till next time, you be well.
Ara & Spirit
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