Powwow at the park

LIHU‘E — It’s powwow time. And it’s free.

The Kaua‘i Powwow 2011 — themed “Walk in Balance” — officially opened on Friday, and will continue throughout the weekend at Kapa‘a Beach Park.

Members of the festival on Friday morning participated in a School Outreach Program at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e. Later, at 4 p.m. the event officially opened at Kapa‘a Beach Park.

The event will continue today at the park from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Several members of the Yakama Nation spent time Friday morning with students from the Kekaha Elementary School and St. Theresa’s School in Kekaha, presenting different types of Indian dances and explaining various customs.

The group also fielded questions from the eager students.

“It’s too bad not more students were able to take advantage of this cultural exchange,” said Kani Blackwell, of the Kaua‘i Powwow Council.

“But with the cutbacks, there are less field trips and the costs of buses keep the students from attending.”

The organization is inviting people back to learn more about the different Native Americans who take advantage of powwow to congregate and celebrate.

Rose Sampson of the Yakama Nation, a veteran of several Kaua‘i powwows and Head Woman Dancer for this weekend’s powwow, was able to effectively tie in the students with their way of life and the Yakama Nation youth, starting the day by having the students wish her granddaughter — who has a Hawaiian name — a happy birthday.

The integration and understanding of cultures continued as Peter Joe Olney, Head Man Dancer and a champion Grass Dancer, performed his magic, breaking the ice during the Owl Dance — a social dance where men and women dance together.

Midway through the dance, he switched from his partner to pull young students into the dance arena, dancing to the music of the Wild Horse Singers, the Host Drum for this weekend’s powwow.

Blackwell capped the morning by inviting students to the “Touch and Feel” table where various animal hides, Indian artifacts and jewelry were on display for the students to inspect.

Blackwell invites the public to browse through the silent auction, sample traditional foods such as frybread, enjoy the storytelling and keiki crafts and browse through the offerings of crafters who have Indian artifacts and crafts for sale.

Due to lack of funds and volunteers, the Kaua‘i Powwow Council did not run the event in 2010.

This year’s free event is hosted by the Kaua‘i Powwow Council, the county’s Office of Economic Development, the County of Kaua‘i and the Aston Aloha Beach Resort.

Visit www.kauaipowwow.com for more information about the event.

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