This November 17, Native American Lifelines, Inc. an organization dedicated to providing substance abuse, dental care and mental health treatment to Native Americans and their families in Maryland will be hosting their first annual pow wow in Middle River, Maryland.
Louis Campbell, Lumbee, a celebrated dancer in Indian country that has performed at countless pow wows was the key player in creating the event, with the assistance of Alex Loeb, Lakota. Both Campbell and Loeb, who work at Baltimore-based Native American Lifelines, have received strong support from their executive director, Susan H. Roth.
“Louis Campbell danced at one of our open houses and said he loved to teach kids. I told him we would love to have a culture program,” said Roth.
Though Campbell first started working with the center as a volunteer, Roth admired his passion for his culture and hired him to work full-time. His culture program eventually grew from a few kids every week to 30-40 people each Thursday. Eventually Alex Loeb also came to work for Lifelines.
A few months after starting at Lifelines, Campbell asked Roth if they could host a pow wow.
“They asked me if they could have a pow wow but said it costs money to start up and they didn’t know if we would lose money or even break even,” But Roth said she admired Campbell and Loeb’s enthusiasm and was glad to take the risk.
“I told him, we are in this all together, let’s give it a try. If we break even will be happy, if we lose money, we will rob Peter to pay Paul.”
Campbell says that even though he has a busy schedule, he has pulled out all the stops to promote the powwow because it benefits native youth.
“It is going to be hectic but we’re getting the word out. We are doing a lot of marketing—putting stickers on our van, It’s also on radio and TV and in newspapers,” said Campbell.
Loeb also expressed the importance of what the pow wow will benefit.
“This pow wow will benefit this youth cultural program. Our program is interested in preventing youth from that substance abuse culture. We try to intercept them before they are old enough to get that far. Through our programs, we try to get the kids involved in culture and get them onto a positive road,” he said.
“In addition to the standard vendors (arts and crafts, food and jewelry) there will be a couple of health booths set up to include the Chase Braxton Health Center which offers more medical procedures then we can offer,” said Campbell. “I will also have someone on the microphone explaining issues in Indian country regarding diabetes, suicide rates and all that.”
Campbell says that so far, the response from the Native Community looks promising.
“The response has been crazy and it looks like it’s going to be awesome. We’ve got four or five drums, we’ve got people coming from Wisconsin, Canada, North Carolina and it’s only a one-day pow wow Dennis Zotigh, who is our MC, his father is coming from New Mexico to the pow wow.”
We also have 300 people on Facebook say they are coming. It is also the week and after the Richmond event so nothing is really happening.”
Roth added, “This will be our first annual pow wow. We’re really excited about this.”