QUAPAW, Okla. —
Jennifer Lunsford began attending the Quapaw Tribe’s annual powwow before she could walk. Her first powwow, she said, came in 1971.
Now, the 39-year-old is doing more than attending the annual event. As a member of the powwow committee, she is helping Sonny Glass and other volunteers organize the event, the 138th year the tribe has held it.
“It’s the oldest powwow in Oklahoma; nationwide, we are the second (oldest),” Lunsford said Thursday.
The annual event begins today, with a gourd dance at 7 p.m., and the Grand Entry at 8:30 p.m. at the powwow grounds, 2.5 miles east of Quapaw.
The powwow continues Saturday and Sunday, with traditional Native American dancing each night.
Throughout the weekend, there will be games for children, a water slide on Saturday, and arts and crafts including beadwork and other Native American traditional art. Native American dishes, such as fry bread, will be available.
“We also have a general council, and a lot of tribal members come back,” said Glass, the elected chairman of the powwow committee.
Lunsford and Glass said that between dancers, tribal members and spectators, at least 3,000 to 4,000 visitors are expected.
Spectators also may join in some of the dancing, including the Snake Dance and the Buffalo Dance.
The powwow is free to the public; donations are collected via the blanket dance and other means to help compensate the singers.
“It’s a beautiful week,” Glass said. “We are going to have a wonderful time.”
The word “Quapaw” translates into “downstream people.” Information about the tribe’s history and the upcoming powwow is available at www.quapawtribe.com.