- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - The annual Plains Indian Museum Powwow entertained and delighted visitors for its 36th celebration.

While spectators circled the Robbie Powwow Garden, Native dancers festooned in brightly colored attire, ranging from elaborate jingle dresses to feathered headwear, created an atmosphere that thrummed with tradition.

One caught the crowds attention was 4-year-old Royal-Marchand Williams. While in line awaiting the Grand Entry in his Omak United Powwow Brave sash, Williams beamed with readiness and excitement.

As soon as he entered the arena, his feet naturally found the rhythm of the drums. After staying in the arena to dance several dances, Williams finished with the Tiny Tots competition (for ages 6 and under).

Afterwards he began to race toward his mother without a thought to his prize bag. She steered him back toward his earnings. He smiled broadly while rifling through his bag, saying that he enjoyed the dancing.

“Since he could walk, he’s been dancing like a little chicken,” his mother Charissa Williams said.

When Royal-Marchand was told he was a great dancer, he responded almost self critically, “not yet.”

The Williams family, originally from Omak, Washington, belong to the Colville and Nez Perce tribes and currently reside in Bozeman, Montana. Charissa said her husband’s a singer and does feather-work, while she does beadwork. She pointed out an antique beaded piece that Royal-Marchand was wearing from the 1800s, a family heirloom from his great-grandfather.

Charissa used to do traditional dancing, but now is concentrating on her beadwork and creating a new outfit. They travel all over to participate in powwows.

“That’s his favorite thing, going to powwows and dancing,” she said of her son.

Andrew Wemmer, who was visiting from San Francisco with his family, was pleased to happen upon the powwow while in town. He was in Cody for the weekend for a family reunion, and said it’s his second visit to the area but he’s never been to a powwow before.

“It’s amazing, seeing all the colors, the costumes, dancing, music and the food,” Wemmer said. “It’s really something to see.”

Carrie Moran McCleary, owner of Plains Soul, sold her custom embroidery creations during the event. With her hand-embroidered earrings, belts, purses and clothing, McCleary traveled to Cody for the first time from Montana’s Crow Reservation.

“I really do like it,” McCleary said. “I feel like there’s a good mix of vendors. The museum does a great job to put together a big event.”

Mary Whitehip and her granddaughter Keely Flying participated in the powwow for the first time, traveling from Lodge Grass, Montana. While they dance often at home, Whitehip said her sister had been encouraging her to come to Cody and participate.

“This year we decided to come and we enjoyed it,” she said.


Information from: The Cody Enterprise, https://www.codyenterprise.com

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