On New Year’s Eve, the Friends of Sobriety organization will remind the Indian community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that it is good to be sober.
“I feel that it’s important to spread the word about sobriety and that there is a fun and safe place to go on New Year’s Eve,” said Lorraine Bosin (Choctaw) public relations coordinator of the 13th Annual New Year’s Eve Sobriety Powwow.
Bosin’s late husband, Niles Bosin, (Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo) co-founded the pow wow. He passed away in January 2012, and left Lorraine to continue his mission: helping people stay sober. This year’s pow wow honors him.
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“He believed that alcohol was not the Indian way. I’m carrying it on along with the help of good people,” Bosin said.
Last year, nearly 3,000 visitors and 100 dancers attended the one-day pow wow, which features singing, dancing, contests, prize money and a Cedar ceremony that clears out negative feelings to make way for a positive start.
This year, due to more advertising, Bosin said the crowd could be bigger. She expects 200 dancers and up to 4,000 guests to come from Oklahoma and neighboring states.
“It has grown so much and has become a really big event,” said Kristy Norris (Kiowa, Caddo and Seminole) a member of the Friends of Sobriety organization. Norris attended the pow wow almost two decades ago with her husband Wes.
“We got sober in 1996. We moved to Tulsa in 1998 and went to the pow wow,” she said. “We were a little concerned about what to do on New Year’s Eve.” The Norris’s have attended the pow wow almost every year since they first came in 1998.
Bosin joined the group in 2007, two years before she married Niles. “People who are heavy into drugs and alcohol are always in a mess. It is all bad news. Their lifestyles seem to lead to two roads: prison and coffin.”
She said her husband’s eyes were opened about the dangers of drinking alcohol when he was working in Washington, D.C.
“He got drunk and passed out in the grass. When he opened his eyes, he had dirt, grass and leaves on his long hair. He laid there and people that were walking by him were looking down at him in disgust. He heard somebody say, ‘There's another drunken Indian!’”
That incident, Bosin said, was the turning point in her husband’s life. “He did not want to represent his Indian people that way,” she said.
“We will be honoring him during the afternoon Gourd dance session since he was a Gourd dancer. This will be right before the grand entry,” she said. A picture of her husband will be displayed on the stage where guests can come out and dance.
The pow wow, which will be held at the Tulsa Convention Center, opens up with Gourd dancing at 1 p.m. The Grand Entry, featuring the Mvskoke Creek Nation Color Guard, starts at 7 p.m. in
Heading the staff are: Mark Wilson, Cherokee, MC; Leonard Cozad, Jr., Kiowa, head Gourd singer; Ryan Roan Horse, Kiowa, head singer; Michael Roberts, Choctaw/Chicasaw, headman dancer; Geneva Horsechief-Hamilton, Osage/Pawnee/Potawatomi/Blackfeet, head lady dancer; Ed Ketcher, Cherokee; Randy Frazier, Choctaw/Prarie Band Potawatomi, arena director; and Red Land Singers, host northern drum.
Bosin said there would be 13 different dances, including Fancy, Straight, Traditional, Chicken, Jingle Dress, Fancy Shawl and Women’s Cloth. Five prizes will be given out to the ladies with the prettiest shawl.
Adding to the fun is the clown contest, which Norris will sponsor in memory of her late husband. The winner is the one who makes the crowd laugh the most.
“We are always there to help people get sober,” she said. “We have a lot of fun. We meet a lot of people. It has an impact on my – and my [late] husband’s – life.”
At Midnight, George Coser will draw the pow wow to a close and lead the Cedar Ceremony with his eagle feathers.
“It’s a new start,” Bosin said. “You want to start anew.”