By Barrett Newkirk
ANDERSON — Black, red and white are allowed in the closets of Delaware Indians, as Greg Livengood learned Saturday.
During the Andersontown Powwow, the Greenfield resident listened as Dee Ketchum, a former Delaware chief, led a presentation on his tribe’s history and customs.
Ketchum’s black otter fur hat and the red and white bead work on his bandolero bag contradicted what Livengood had always thought he knew about Madison County’s indigenous people, that those three colors were sacred and shouldn’t be part of an Indian’s wardrobe.
But that’s not the case, Ketchum explained, at least not among the Delaware.
“Some tribes have family designs, and really, you have to get their permission to wear their designs,” Ketchum said. “And some tribes have colors you cannot wear.”
This year is Ketchum’s fifth Andersontown Powwow, and he’s been speaking at Connor Prairie for 15 years. The Oklahoma native said by doing presentations on his tribe’s history he hopes to correct common misconceptions about American Indians.
“There are so many myths and stories about Native American clothing, customs and traditions,” he said. “It amazes me what people think of the concept of Native Americans in Oklahoma. They think we still live in the 1800s.”
Delaware Indians living in 2008 do not stick to reservations and tend to enjoy very modern lives, Ketchum said.
People in the tribe often struggle to balance their heritage and mainstream culture, what Ketchum called “the two worlds,” he said the tribe is still strong with 12,500 members worldwide, about half of which live in Oklahoma.
Livengood will be able to put his new knowledge of the Delaware to good use. Along with his friend Scott Pike, Livengood leads a group of Boy Scouts in the Order of the Arrow, a Scouting honor society that teaches boys about aspects of American Indian traditions.
Members of Livengood and Pike’s troop learn about Delaware culture, make Delaware clothing and even learn some of the Delaware language. The troop’s name is “Seke Magun” meaning “black bear.”
Livengood said the Powwow was a welcomed opportunity to see authentic Delaware clothing and see the traditional dances performed by the people who know them best.
He, Pike and their Scouts can then better replicate the outfits and customs on their own.
“A lot of the kids come and see the tribal costuming, and they go home and make their own,” he said. “In fact, in Boy Scouts, you’re not allowed to wear moccasins unless you make them.”
If you go
2008 Andersontown Powwow and Indian Market continues Sunday
Where: Athletic Park in Anderson
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Adults $5, children 8 and under free
For more information: (800) 533-6569, (765) 643-5633, www.andersontownpowwow.org
11 a.m.: Indian market opens
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Children’s activities, artist tent
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Artifact identification, artist tent
11 a.m.: Delaware cultural presentations
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Tomahawk throws
Noon: Eagle Creek Birds of Prey
1 to 3:30 p.m.: Grand Entry; Competitive dancing: Men over 18; Open dancing
2 p.m.: Eagle Creek Birds of Prey
3:30 p.m.: Awards ceremony; tribal dance and prayer song
4 p.m.: Arena and Indian market close
(All times subject to change)