This was only my second return to the annual Quapaw Pow Wow in the last twenty years since Grandma Jennings passed in 1994.
The previous return visit was in 2010 but was brief and there were many relatives absent from the event due to a recent death in the Native community.
This year, it was just like childhood with the exception of alcohol consumption with my now mutually legal cousins. We camped, we ate, we danced, we shook shells, and we stood in line for rations (yes, Natives still do this 200+ years later), but most importantly, we laughed. I'd forgotten how much I missed the sound of throw-your-head-back-mouth-gaping laughter (now I remember where I get it from).
The first evening of the 142nd annual Quapaw Pow Wow was dedicated to tribal members and my mother surprised me with an honour dance with favourable mention of my recently completed degree, but also as a Veteran for the Armed Services. I was further honored when my mother allowed me to wear my grandmother's regalia and my cousin, Alayah, won the 2014/15 Quapaw Tribal Princess!
The back of the shawl is the Quapaw (O-Gah-Pah) tribal flag
We had a scare on the evening of July 4th when Sweetpea went missing for what seemed like an eternity, but was more like 15-20 minutes. The arena director made an announcement to the entire pow wow, "if you're hiding a brown chihuahua in your cooking pot, her name is Sweetpea and she belongs to the Jennings' camp. Please return her!" After much distress on my part and wet eyes, the kid bro found her burrowed under blankets in the tent, likely hiding from the fireworks. The next morning on our walk to the Turkey Dance, Miss Pea had become more of a celebrity than she'd been previously. "Is that Sweetpea!?" "We're so glad you found her!" "She's a tiny little thing!" And my uncle's statement, "don't you know at least one Jennings ends up lost every year? We're keeping tradition."
In fact, once when I was little, maybe five or six, I approached the then arena director and asked if he'd seen my grandparents. He asked if I was lost and I said (very intently, but confused), "no...? I'm not lost, they are."
Enroute from Oklahoma to Arizona, I pit stopped in Santa Fe, NM to visit a Couch Surfing buddy that I hosted last summer in San Francisco, CA. We spent an evening soaking in the tubs at 10,000 Waves, a traditional Japanese bath house and ate delicious local food. Make sure you declare "red, green, or christmas" when ordering anything with sauce! I was also happy to catch up with old family friends since they recently returned to The States after living in Singapore for the last several years.
I'm back in AZ for the time being and wishing that time would slow to a stroll before my next cross country move, although I am excited to (finally) start the next chapter. My patience during the job hunt has paid off and I'm entering into an area where I've no doubt I'll excel.