Sacred Spirits Intertribal Powwow

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES — While Richard Thundercloud Rogers and Gary Lonewolf Stevens were preparing for last year’s powwow in Naples, their event got a stamp of approval from the heavens.
According to Stevens, a female bald eagle was nesting nearby. That elegant eagle repeatedly made her presence known. As soon as the last stake had been driven to complete the sacred circle for the drummers, the eagle circled half a dozen times over that space. Earlier that morning as Rogers witnessed the sunrise from a dock on Brandy Pond, “a beautiful bald eagle glided about four feet above my head,” he said, adding it appeared he could have reached up and touched her talons. Later, five red-tailed hawks flew in for closer inspection of the sacred circle.
But, the most spectacular and symbolic scene was when the eagle and a red-tailed hawk came from opposite ends of the acreage and assumed the same flight pattern, the same direction as they flew around and around the sacred drumming circle.
“They are natural enemies, but they came together and circled together around our sacred circle. The eagle to us is the direct tie to the creator. It was a sign that if we could see two birds that are enemies flying together, then people can set aside their differences and come together for one purpose,” Stevens said.
The two species of bird flying in unison was seen as a blessing of the land and the intertribal powwow intended to include people hailing from different tribes and those who aren’t North American natives, he said.
The Third Annual Sacred Spirits Intertribal Powwow will be held Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at Sunrise Cove Road in Naples. Most vehicle GPS systems respond better to Sunrise Road for people attending the event for the first time.
Over the years, the two long-time friends have helped other groups with setting up their powwows. Three years ago, a fellow drummer networked with the Naples Historical Society to get use of the land in mid-September. So, Rogers and Stevens have the opportunity to host their own powwow.
“It’s such a beautiful spot right on the lake. People from New Hampshire have easy access as far as driving, and it’s easy for Mainers to get to as well,” he said, adding the two-day event offers entertainment for everyone.
There will be traditional storytellers and two well-known women’s drumming groups: Spirit of the Wind from Canada and Red Hawk Medicine Drop from Waterville.
“The drums draw people. When they hear the drumming, they want to come and see,” Stevens said.
Rogers describes people sitting the decks of their homes around the lake, listening to the drums. People in their boats become mesmerized by the drumming and they anchor close-by to enjoy the music, too.
The drum sound represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth, Stevens said, and the drumming helps to heal the earth and its people. The drummers perform healing songs; and sometimes while singing, they think about the earth healing from the recent oil-rig spill that occurred this spring in the Gulf of Mexico, he said.
Rogers and Stevens travel to powwows every weekend from May through October. Already, they’ve drummed at 17 gatherings this summer, driving up to five hours. Over the Labor Day weekend, the two attended a powwow in Newport, which draws about 5,000 people. They left there and arrived in Naples Tuesday to start setting up for this weekend. Stevens said they like to spend several days preparing the space so it has powerful, positive energy. He said attendees have commented on the good energy of the Sacred Spirits Powwow.
The first year the event was held, it got free television advertising and vehicles were lined along State Park Road almost to the Songo River Lock, Rogers said. The following year, less publicity and forecasted rain showers contributed to a much smaller crowd. However, the residents living off State Park Road had anticipated another shortage of parking space in 2009 and had erected signs in their yards that said it would cost $5 to park there, Rogers laughed.
“The neighbors were ready,” he said.
Stevens said he found himself last year apologizing to a vendor for the poor turnout. He said the vendor put her hand on his shoulder and comforted him, saying, “‘Oh, don’t worry. It was perfect. This spot is so peaceful. I’ll be back next year.’”

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