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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Michael Hipa enters arena in Grand Entry, 1998
Michael Hipa, Poarch Creek Indian tribal descendant, enters the arena in the Grand Entry, 1988 Photo: Daniel McGhee

Poarch Creek Indians

Originally held as a homecoming for tribal members in 1971, the Poarch Creek Indian Pow Wow has evolved into a cultural festival attracting approximately 10,000 visitors yearly. The Poarch Creek Indians decided on Thanksgiving Day as the annual date to hold their Pow Wow and also to include visitors from other tribes and from among the public, giving rise to the Pow Wow's current official title: Poarch Creek Indian Thanksgiving Homecoming and Inter-tribal Pow Wow. During the 1980s, the Pow Wow was extended to a two-day festival and now encompasses the Friday after Thanksgiving. The present site of the gathering is on land originally inhabited by this Native American tribe for thousands of years.

Performances of ancestral dancers in authentic dress are at the core of the festival. American Indian music and dance shows continue throughout the two days. These exhibition dances help visitors understand the meaning of the dances, and the significance of the dancers' costumes and accessories. Competition dancing in four age categories, each with a male and female division, is also a large part of the Pow Wow.

During the Pow Wow, a Poarch Creek Indian Princess is crowned. Collectors can find a variety of handmade Indian crafts, including beadwork, basketry, quilts and silverwork for purchase. The crowd delights in the old-fashioned greased pig event and turkey shoot. Other events vary from year to year, but have included a petting zoo and pony rides. Food offerings include corn and barbecue roasted over oak wood fires, Indian tacos and fry bread, and traditional turkey and dressing, ham and fried chicken dinners provided by local churches.

As the only Federally recognized tribe in Alabama, receiving this status in 1985, the Poarch Creek Indians feel the responsibility of representing their state and themselves as a living, growing culture.

Project is documented with text, 18 8 x 10 color photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, a packet with an overview of the tribe, a postcard from the 1995 Pow Wow, a promotional brochure, a program from the 1998 Pow Wow, and a map showing the location of the Poarch Creek tribe in Alabama.

Originally submitted by: Jeff Sessions, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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