The Nanticoke Indian Association will celebrate its 37th annual Pow Wow near Millsboro with thousands of guests on Sept. 6 and 7.

The Nanticoke Indian Association will celebrate its 37th annual Pow Wow near Millsboro with thousands of guests on Sept. 6 and 7.

Before the festivities begin, here are four things to know about the Pow Wow and Nanticoke culture:

Lowdown on the Pow Wow

A powwow is a family reunion for Native Americans of all tribes, where they celebrate their heritage in a festival setting. The event includes lots of traditional singing and various dances by Native Americans dressed in regalia.

The Nanticoke’s Indian Association’s Pow Wow will host more than 40 vendors who will offer a variety of arts and crafts, traditional Native American garb and accessories, weapons and other wares. Tasty cuisine also will be offered, including frybread (similar to a funnel cake), Indian tacos and buffalo burgers.

About 27,000 people usually attend the Nanticoke Indian Association’s Pow Wow during the two-day event. The Pow Wow attracts Native Americans from all over the country, as well as Canada.

One of the biggest annual events in Millsboro, the Pow Wow is a great opportunity for non-Native Americans to get a glimpse into Native American culture. Having the general public learn more about Nanticokes means a great deal to Nanticoke Indian Association Chief William Daisey and his brethren.

“More people are coming all the time [to the Pow Wow],” Daisey said. “It gives us more opportunity to promote our culture and heritage, and promote a great understanding of it”.

Fancy footwork

A major aspect of a powwow is the dancing, which actually starts off the event. The dances are performed in a large area called “the circle.” There are dozens of unique moves Native Americans perform, and each one bears a special meaning. For example, there are social dances such as the Friendship Dance, which is one of the few that allows non-Native Americans to perform in the circle. There’s also the Jingle Dress Dance, a healing dance that’s done to bring emotional or physical healing to people in need.

Again, non-Native Americans aren’t allowed to perform many dances in the circle. This helps to ensure that the quality of the dancing in a powwow will remain strong, since it takes lots of practice to execute the moves properly, Daisey said.

Adrienne Harmon, the lead female dancer for Nanticoke Indian Association, said she’s responsible for knowing dozens of dances and teaching them to the female and male members of her tribe.

“I feel honored to be given the opportunity to represent my tribe and promote Native American awareness,” the Millsboro native said.

Debunking a myth

Delaware actually has a generous number of Native Americans residents.

“A lot of folks aren’t aware,” Daisey said.

The two biggest Native American tribes in Delaware are the Nanticokes, which is based in the Millsboro area, and the Lenapes, which is based in Kent County.

A lot of people don’t realize there a lot of Native Americans in the First State because they blend in with the general public so well.

“They’re teachers, engineers, famers, plumbers and carpenters. They’re in all walks of life now,” Daisey said. “They’re not the image you see in some of the history books. They look like regular, everyday people.”


WHAT 37th annual Nanticoke Indian Association Pow Wow

WHEN 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6; 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 7

WHERE 26800 John J. Williams Highway, eight miles east of Millsboro

COST $10 for guests in vehicles; $3 for guests on foot

INFO Visit or call 945-3400