At 7 years old, Brady Dean of Blue Springs is already familiar with many customs and traditions that make him proud of his American Indian heritage.
That’s why on Saturday, Brady sat next to his father, William Dean, and eagerly played the drum and performed songs that honored God and his ancestors during the annual Indian Council of Many Nations Winter Powwow.
“I have a radio at my house and listen to these songs every night, and that is why I like it so much,” Brady said.
The daylong celebration was at the Missouri National Guard Armory in Kansas City and featured traditional dancing, drumming, singing and other activities.
“We dance for our ancestors, we dance for the creator and we dance for the joy of being together,” said Dick Lanoue, tribal leader and council president. “It is a place where you will find many family reunions, and it is a time of celebration of coming together.”
Vendors lined the gymnasium walls and sold various items such as beadwork, drums, leather clothing and jewelry made of sliver or other metals. Food items that included fry bread, Indian tacos and buffalo hamburgers also were available.
Organizers expected nearly 2,000 to attend the event Saturday, including those who traveled from Oklahoma, South Dakota, New Mexico, Iowa and Nebraska.
The festivities began with the Grand Entry, led by a color guard that consisted of a staff made from eagle feathers, the American flag, the Council of Many Nations flag and flags representing the armed forces as well as the POW-MIA flag.
Behind them was the head man dancer, several Indian princesses from throughout the region and gourd dancers dressed in traditional regalia. There were military veterans and others who danced to honor a relative who had served in the military.
Several drums were stationed inside the dance circle, and performers sang songs that honored their ancestors and those in the United States military.
For William Dean, 31, of Blue Springs, bringing Brady and daughter Nina to Saturday’s powwow was important. It continued the tradition handed down by his grandfather and honored his Ojibwa lineage.
“What I was taught is that we sing for our creator,” Dean said. “It is not something that we do for ourselves — sing for those who can’t and we dance for those who can’t dance anymore.
“This is like going to church and singing in a big choir. Feeling God in your heart, that is why we come.”