August 9, 2008



Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation will hold its 2008 powwow August 16-17 ( ) in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. It held its ninth Annual Native American Festival on August 18-19, 2007. My husband and I attended, with our granddaughter, Jordan. Click on   to view illustrations.

The last lap to get to the Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation 2007 festival grounds was driving over a narrow dirt road on which one hopes not to meet a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. We were fortunate, both arriving and leaving.

When the grounds came into view, in a valley below, we spied teepees set up against a backdrop of green trees.

After parking, we wandered over to where the ceremonies were taking place. There was a circular arbor made from tree limbs and a few four by fours. Shade was provided by pine boughs draped across the top. Sun seeping through the boughs sunburned Monte’s head.

The circle was surrounded by a stone wall about knee high, with an opening providing access. In the center of the circle was a fire pit with a smoking log.

We were in time for the Grand Entry.

The narrator announced that the first three dances were considered sacred, and were duty dances. Observers were asked to stand (if physically able) and to not take photographs. Men were asked to remove head gear if it was not in the traditional style, eg. with an eagle feather.

These dances had appreciation themes.

The first of the three was to thank the vendors, without who helped the powwow thrive, and to thank the powwow committee. Note was taken of the wonderful arbor made by committee members. It was covered with pine branches, which offered refuge from the sun for the visitors and dancers.

The second dance honored the elders, the enlightened teachers, who had walked enough footsteps in their lives to teach those who are following in these footsteps.

The third dance honored the creator, and Mother Earth who gives all life.

The name “Lenape,” according to the narrator, means upright standing, human being. All 500 plus Native American names translate into the words “human beings.”

They drummed a flag song , then all the Native American veterans were called to the center of the circle by the smoking log. There was a flag song, with the drum beat. The veterans danced around the circle single file before posting three flags: the American flag, the POW flag and the Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation flag. A veteran in a wheel chair carried a “dream catcher.”

Then all veterans were called to line up for a dance. Then all non-Native American veterans were called to line up behind them. The last group called to participate were relatives of current military men.

At this point I asked my granddaughter Jordan if we should participate. She doesn’t know my sister Sally’s son Jared, but he is in Iraq. She wouldn’t go up but she thought I should (later she told me she didn’t think I’d do it).

The dance was led by a lead man and a lead woman, who were familiar with the traditional dances. Participants danced a basic step around the perimeter of the circle (I kept losing my rhythm). After circling numerous times, participants were greeted by about ten Native Americans who were lined up to greet them and hand them a small red fabric object (which I will present to Sally). Several dancers thought I was a veteran—one said it was good to have a female veteran—and I kept saying I was there for my nephew.

The Native American costumes were impressive. Jordan liked the blue costume with the pink butterfly and the man wearing the turkey feathers on his back.

There are three types of men’s traditional dance—straight, sneak up and dunk and dive. Women stand at the outer edge of the circle during these dances, to show their respect for the men. Muddy Creek did the Sneak Up dance.

The men stand at the perimeter of the circle for the woman’s dance, for the same reason: to show their respect.

The narrator continually explained background on the Lenape culture and dances.
To the Indian people a person’s word given once is his bond. “If you can’t keep your word you’re not worth much.” We teach our children all the way up, “It’s your word”
Everything is about words. The Native Americans didn’t have a use for words. Over 700 treaties were made, and of all they signed only one thing was signed where the others kept their word—to take our lands.

Native Americans couldn’t read. They’d be told “this is what it says,” and the Chief would sign his X. The witness would write the Native American’s name.

I had to strongly encourage Jordan to participate in the kids dance, called both the candy snake and the candy dance. She ultimately was the first in line, and held hands with the leader. He told the children his voice would tell them how to dance, every twist and turn. He led a large group of kids around and through the circle, moving in twists and turns, and coiling tightly. Then he announced that the snake was hungry, and would encircle persons, who then were expected to join the snake body.

Before the children left the circle they were asked to sit around its perimeter, facing the crowds, back to the center. The narrator spoke to the onlookers.

“We need to look at the faces of these children and see that the earth belongs to them. And the generations that follow them. For seven generations.

“My grandchildren need me to stand up for them. Now it’s more important than ever. Please show them they are worthwhile.

“Look behind you at the next generation coming up. Look behind you for the generation you cannot see.

“Every decision we make we need to consider the next generation.”

The program contained numerous children’s activity pages, sayings and advertisements.
The Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation members could not have asked for a better day for their event. In this rainy weather, this day was sunny, moderate of temperature and welcome.

Contact them at

Click on RAINBOW’S END Part 1 to read a historical fiction story about a Lenape Indian.

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