BY DAN WHITTLE
LONG HUNTER STATE PARK - History will come alive here Oct. 16-18 for the 34th annual Tennessee Indian Education Pow Wow.
The first day, a Friday, is free to school children and seniors because of the historical significance of this Pow Wow, recognized as the largest event by Native Americans in the Southeast.
"A Pow Wow is a gathering of American Indians who come to pray, share stories, dance, celebrate and make music," confirmed Ray Emmanuel, a leader of the North Carolina east coast swamp-based Lumbee Tribe and an official the Nashville-based Native American Indian Association, the Pow Wow's sponsoring organization. "It is a great opportunity for parents and grandparents to introduce children into the culture of America that preceded Europeans' arrival on the continent."
Located at 2910 Hobson Pike about halfway between Interstates 40 and 24, Long Hunter Park officials are expected to welcome more 50 tribes from throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Emmanuel shared origins of his Lumbee Tribe that became well-known historically during and after the Civil War.
"The Lumbee are the largest tribe (55,000) in North Carolina," Emmanuel noted. "During the Civil War, there was a sub-war, called the 'The Lowrie War' when North Carolina turned to forced labor to construct defenses.
"Several Lowrie cousins, excluded from the military because of they were 'mulatto,' had been conscripted to help build a fort," Emmanuel added. "Henry Berry Lowrie and several of his relatives took to the swamps where mullatos resorted to 'lying out' to avoid being rounded by the Confederate Home Guard and forced to work as impressed laborers."
The group became known as the infamous Lowrie Gang that grew bolder as the war began turning against the Confederates. Some of them resorted to crime, committing robberies and murders against white Robeson County residents who sympathized with the Confederates.
"In December 1864, the Lowrie Gang killed James P. Barnes after he had accused Henry Lowrie's father with 'stealing hogs,'" Emmanuel noted back in time. "Next, the gang killed James Brantley Harris. a Confederate conscription office who killed a Lowrie relative."
Attempts at capturing the Lowrie Gang never happened in the swamp by the Confederates, since fellow Lumbee tribal people sympathized with and protected the gang.
"Attending our Pow Wow is an accurate source of history, as evidenced by the annual attendance of between 15,000 to 18,000 visitors each fall," verified Sally Wells, a member of the Choctaw Tribe who resides in Rutherford County. "Everyone is encouraged to attend this spectacular event which features Native American dancers in full regalia, musicians and artists who continue the Native American way of beading and basket-weaving. Our Arts and Crafts Demonstration Village is popular with Pow Wow visitors."
"Admission is very reasonable," Wells accounted. "including $6 for adults, $3 for seniors and $3 for children 6-12, for the events set for Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. each day.
"People line up for Native American cooking, especially the fry bread, Indian tacos and hominy made the Indian way," Wells accounted.
Persons wanted more information can call 615-232-9179.