Hundreds gathered in Memorial Park Saturday, May 3, to kick off what organizers hope will be an annual celebration of Native Indian culture.

'I'm happy this is happening,' said Pat Harbach, of North Coventry. 'It's a good thing.'

Harbach goes by Clan Mother Star and emceed the PowWow on Manatawny Creek Saturday afternoon.

'The purpose of the PowWow is to combine the nations and come together as a family, because we all feel like a family anyway,' said Johnny White Bull, a Bechtelsville resident who wore traditional clothes and face paint and took an active role in the PowWow.

Ron Williams, a Pottstown School Board member who spearheaded the event along with Harbach, said he hopes to make the PowWow an annual celebration.

'The whole idea is to keep awareness of the Native American legend in this region,' Williams said. 'The way we're going to do that is (by) developing the (Franklin Street) memorial and continuing to remind folks that the (area's) heritage goes back beyond 1492.'

Saturday morning, a solemn rededication was held for the memorial to Native Indians - which Williams said was the preferred term - on Franklin Street at Industrial Highway.

Memorial Park was filled with the sound of the Medicine Horse Singers and Dancers' drums playing time-honored Native Indian songs for dancers in traditional regalia.

Many dances in the roped-off circle were done only by the Native Indians in the crowd.

White Bull said dancing is central to Native Indians' traditional beliefs.

'We dance so we can embrace the Creator and lift him up,' he said. 'We learn that every step is a prayer.'

Some dances were opened up to anyone who wished to participate, such as the 'friendship round dance.'

'We're having an excellent turnout here,' Williams said. 'I cannot express the excitement at the number of folks who have come out to see what we're all about.'

For the past 'three or four months,' Harbach said she's been 'working fervently' with Williams on the PowWow.

She's helped with other PowWows like ones with the Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy.

'I pretty much know what to do when and that sort of thing,' she said. 'It works out.'

At one point, Harbach could be seen leading Williams by the arm into the circle.

'I don't know how to dance,' Williams said.

'It's time you learned,' Harbach replied.

Pottstown's PowWow was set to continue well into Sunday afternoon.

'I think it's coming off very well,' Harbach said.

Barbara Ball, a Baltimore resident and friend of Harbach's said she was enjoying the experience Saturday.

'I think it's wonderful for the first year,' she said. 'Getting everything together, they've done a great job.'

Ball has attended other PowWows but said Saturday's had 'a more intimate feel.'

'People who weren't in full regalia can get up and dance,' she said.

Harbach said she enjoyed bring the 'non-native and the native community together to share our culture.'

'There's always room for growth and I think Pottstown's letting us know in a good way that they want us here,' Harbach said. 'With the participation and we see the visitors, it's all coming about.'

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