Excerpts from Event Study: Cherokee Tribe of Georgia Spring Powwow, March 5th and 6th, 2004, by Jackie Caldwell
Folklore and Fieldwork Honors Capstone, Spring 2004
Dr. Laurie Kay Sommers, instructor
At the Powwow
The Cherokee Tribe of Georgia Powwow, St. George, Georgia, March 5th, 2004
It was about 5:45 when we arrived. The weather as hot and humid moving alternately between sunny and overcast. We turn onto a small gravel road and cross the train tracks. At a little wooden shack a man and boy are directing cars…We park the car and follow the man to the heart of the camp down a gravel drive. Open tents line the sides there traders sell goods and souvenirs. On one side are the various tents and campers of both the performers and spectators. The camping area is lightly wooded, but at its edge the trees thicken and the ground becomes mucky.
On the right side of the drive, one man who I later learn is Squirrel has five different types of tent shelters set up showing the evolution of tents. Under each are the various objects associated with each era….
Caption: Squirrel’s lean-to display, with examples of early imported European goods and furs used in trade, Cherokee Tribe of Georgia Powwow, 3-5-04. Photo by Jackie Caldwell.
Caption: Cherokee and U.S. flags on the grounds of the Cherokee Tribe of Georgia Powwow, 3-5-04. Photo by Jackie Caldwell.
On the other side of the road are the bathroom, library, and cookhouse…The library is a resource that many say is very important to Chief Gilles Martin. He is interested in educating the children and preserving the Cherokee way of life. Inside the library there are a variety of books for both general reading and resources on the Cherokees and other tribes. It seems to me that much of the library is dedicated to the children and their art projects. Several worn rugs are on the floor in front of a comfortable well-used sofa. The books on the children’s shelves are grubby from dirty little fingers, a sure sign that the stories are favorites. On the walls hang the children’s craft projects, the latest of which is a rawhide shield that they have painted. The room has the welcoming, lived-in feeling of a den…
Next to the library is the cookhouse from which concessions are sold and the dinner provided. The busiest line of the stand is for Mama Martin’s fry bread, a secret recipe that has been passed down in her family for generations. The dough is in a large stainless steel bowl where it seethes and bubbles like sourdough starter. Before she takes the dough out she sprinkles it with four in a cross. Then she takes a small scoop and pats it out in a plate of flour and drops it in a large cast iron kettle filled with boiling oil. They are cooked to a golden brown, no more than three or four at a time. They are taken out and placed on a plain white paper napkin that she hands to you, telling you to be careful, it’s hot. Then you can top it with powdered sugar and honey. It tastes like a cross between a glazed donut and a funnel cake.
Friday night the Cherokee Tribe of Georgia provided a feast for everyone present. The food included spaghetti, salad, macaroni and cheese, and sweet tea. The importance was not in the food served, but in the benefit of communal dining, and the Cherokee Tribe offering its hospitality and showing its ability to provide.
Caption: Mama Martin making fry bread, Cherokee Tribe of Georgia Powwow, 10-1-99, photo by Laurie Kay Sommers.