HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first annual Oʻahu Native Nationz Organization pow wow took place on Saturday, April 1 and Sunday April 2.
Local sponsors helped make this event possible. ONNO works throughout the year to foster ties between Native Hawaiians and First Nations tribal members who live in Hawai’i.
Residents and visitors alike joined in the celebration of Turtle Island (North America) indigenous cultures. Currently there are just under 4,000 First Nations peoples from Turtle Island living in the Hawai’i islands.
There are all sorts of different types of dances performed at pow wows. Typically, the dances are segregated into men’s and women’s groups. Sadly, the dances of the two-spirits were lost when Europeans colonized Turtle Island and outlawed native customs and traditions. For men’s dances, there are Fancy, Grass, Prairie Chicken and Traditional (some variations between Northern and Southern). For women’s dances, there are Fancy, Jingle and Traditional (again some variations between Northern and Southern).
Drumming is a big part of Native American tradition. These musicians provide the sounds that drive the dances and push the event forward. This year, a group known as TBZ — The Boyz from Twin Cities, Minnestoa provided the traditional drumming and chanting.
The Head Male Dancer and Head Female Dancer are a part of pow wows to act as role models. These individuals typically exhibit outstanding traditional qualities which is why they are asked to serve in this capacity. The responsibilities of this position include being present throughout the pow wow activities and leading the dancers by being the first to begin each dance.
For this year’s pow wow, the Head Lady was Diane Desrosiers and the Head Man Gabe Desrosiers. Diane is a part of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux Tribe) of the Lake Traverse Reservation in Northeastern South Dakota, and Gabe is with the Anishinaabe Nation.
There are many Native Americans who were born on O’ahu. Kai Akiyama-Bevett was born here but is a part of the Northern Cherokee of North Carolina.
Pow wows usually attract Native Americans from across the U.S. This year’s pow wow had a large contingency of First Nations peoples who came out to join in the celebration.
Many Native American tribes have a long history of intermingling. Most Native Americans can trace lineages from multiple tribes throughout North, Central and South America as well as the Carribean and Pacific Island region.
Each tribe has their own traditions and histories.
Familes a at the center of tribal life for Turtle Island First Nations peoples. They can often be seen performing together in duos or groups at pow wows.
Native Americans move to Hawai’i for lots of reasons. Some are a part of the military while others move here to attend university. Many move here for work or for a better life. Above is Cierra jaMae. She is a part of the O’ahu Intertribal Council.
Military service has a long, proud tradition amongst Native Americans. When colonizers first breached the shores of Turtle Island in the 1500s, many Native Americans sought to mitigate the devastation to their peoples brought by Europeans by joining in their military campaigns. While nearly all tribal leaders were double-crossed for decades by British, Spanish and French colonizers, many tribes were forced to choose sides in the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War and many other military campaigns fought on their lands.
In modern history, Native Americans have proven to be an invaluable part of the U.S. military. The Navajo code talkers are famed for being able to create unbreakable codes during World War II. To date, nineteen percent of Native Americans have served in the military. This is a higher percentage than any other ethnicity represented in the U.S. military with nearly 15,000 military personnel currently identifying as Native American.
There is another pow wow set to take place in September that will be hosted by the O’ahu Intertribal Council. ONNO will be back next year with another pow wow in 2024.