Drums have not been along the Yadkin in many generations.
Jonesville was once a major river crossing for Native Americans and settlers, but the westward push forced the natives out of the area hundreds of years ago.
Thanks to the new Jonesville Greenway, that is no longer the case.
Jonesville’s inaugural “Drums along the Yadkin” brought together members of numerous tribes of Native Americans at the head of the new greenway trail May 17-19. The event was well attended despite the rain showers that have typified the last few weeks.
Ken Cloudwalker emceed the event. Cloudwalker is a regular on the pow wow trail, the circuit of nationwide pow wows that vendors and performers travel up from Florida, to the Northeast, and out to Ohio.
The event began Friday when students from Jonesville Elementary visited, sitting around the performance circle in the center of the greenway clearing. Cloudwalker said about 170 kids attended.
They were introduced to native flute playing by Roy Spotted Eagle while his twin sons sang and played the traditional drum nearby.
Day two opened entirely different from the mid-80 degree day on Friday. Right as Cloudwalker began preparing for the grand entry — the opening ceremony that was to mark the beginning of the day’s events – rain began falling.
The rain did not hamper the spirits of the performers, though. As Cloudwalker was debating how to proceed given the rain, a dancer came to ask him to let the dancers begin.
Cloudwalker smiled and told the crowd over the speaker system that the rain could not hamper the dancers’ desire to perform and that the show would go on despite the rain.
Men and women both performed traditional Native American dances, with the audience’s applause determining the winner. Women were the clear favorite, leading some male dancers to joke that the contest was biased.
Kenny Wallace – not the NASCAR driver – drove in from Winston-Salem to attend the pow wow. Wallace performs traditional hoop dances and asked Cloudwalker if he could participate, to which Cloudwalker enthusiastically agreed.
Wallace introduced the hoop dance to many in the crowd who had never seen one before. The dancer makes circles and progressively steps into more and more hoops, bringing them up around his waist until the hoops make “wings” for the artist to perform with.
Cloudwalker announced an honor dance would begin as the rain lessened. Chief Jim Wilson was honored by many of the performers with a solemn, slow walk around the performance circle in the middle of the clearing.
Chief Wilson is a member of the Nuluti Equani Ehi tribe, which means “near river dwellers.” His tribe once lived along the banks of the Yadkin River.
The event was the first official program held at the Jonesville Greenway.
The greenway has been in the works since last year. Duke Power connected electricity on Friday and a parking lot was literally cut out of the surrounding woods to accommodate the vehicles of visitors.
The trail begins behind the Starmount V Cinema and runs eastward along the Yadkin to behind the Duke Power building in Jonesville and the driving range.
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