As drums banged in the background, Ed Smith quietly put on his leggings, garters, drops and moccasins — traditional Osage clothes — as he prepared to share his Native American culture through song and dance.Gallery: For The People Pow Wow 2018
Smith was one of more than 100 attendees Sunday at the 11th annual For the People Pow Wow at the Jefferson City Jaycee Fairgrounds.
While Smith was preparing, others took turns at the microphone, including Bryce Bailey, an Oklahoma resident who sang a love song of sorts. It was aimed at single women, to let them know he's a good and respectful man, sang in the Sac and Fox language.
Smith, a member of the Osage Tribe, started attending pow wows and tribal ceremonies since the age of 7. Now, he brings his wife, Renalda, a full-blooded Navajo, and their four children to the events.
Smith said it's a way to honor his culture and keep it alive.
"It's a way to express myself as a native person, and it's kind of like a tie to our old people. We live in Main Street culture, which is different from ours, but our culture still goes on," Smith said.
Many of the things participants at the event wear and do have meaning, he said.
"We don't have a word that translates to 'religion.' The religious aspects of our events are so intertwined in our culture," he said. "Like when we're doing these dances, they're not social dances. We don't do them for fun. Even though the pow wow itself is a social thing, there's a spiritual side to it that's just ingrained."
He urged members of the public to attend the event in the future. The emcees at pow wows, he said, not only announce who is performing, but teach about Native American history and culture.
Millie Bechtold came from Independence to the event. She and her granddaughter, Nina, 7, were looking at the different wares being sold at various booths. They found some items that caught their attention at the Redflowers Native Memorials booth.
Bechtold, who has been to pow wows since she was a baby, said her favorite part of the events is the songs. "They're songs that aren't written down," she said. "They're history, passed on through word of mouth."
Pow wows are held at various locations throughout the summer, and are sort of like family reunions for many of the regulars. However, anyone is invited to come and experience the heritage.
Greg Olson, the Pow Wow Committee chairman, said there isn't a big Native American population in Mid-Missouri. For many people in the area, the only things they know about the culture are stereotypes.
"We try to be educational, and offer opportunities for people to learn" in a relaxed atmosphere, he said.