Thunderstorms threatened to cut short the opening night of the Kaw Powwow as lightning lit up the sky in the distance. Participants rumbled through dances, beating the impending storm.
On Friday, Outgoing Princess Meraenda Kekahbah handed her crown to MatheAnna Williams, a year after Williams passed it to her. Williams said that she hopes her second reign is even better than the first one.
“I’m more experienced with it now, so I’ll know more things to do,” she said.
The date change from August to October brought cooler weather to the powwow, but it also gave an opportunity for gourd dancing on Friday and Saturday afternoon.
Each night of the powwow featured a set of tail dances. The last song of Sunday’s tail dances was used at the first Kaw Powwow. Head Singer Kinsel Lieb said that the song means, “Now everything is complete. Now, time has come to go forth.”
The American flag was flown in honor of Kennis Bellmard, Sr., on Friday. On Saturday, the flag was flown in honor of Ernest Mehojah. On Sunday, it flew in honor of Archie Littlewalker.
On Sunday, the Cultural, Museum and Library (CML) Committee awarded Barb Stanbrough, Jerry Johnson, Dr. Dejene Alemayehu and Crystal Douglas with honorary tribal memberships.
Honorary tribal memberships are awarded to individuals as the tribe deems appropriate. Among those who have previously received this honor is Mark Sampsel, who sculpted busts of the last five full-blooded Kaws. Honorary tribal members are not afforded the rights and privileges given to ordinary tribal members.
Stanbrough has served as the park manager at Allegawaho Park in Council Grove, Kan., since 2007. She said that the honorary membership isn’t the real reward of her partnership with the tribe.
“The awesome friends acquired,” she said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of it. The make you feel like you’re a part of it.”
Johnson was the mayor of Braman, Okla., for 29 years, and is a Kaw Enterprise Development Authority Board member. While presenting Johnson with the honor, CML Committee member Jason Murray recognized him as a key player in the tribe’s effort to obtain an off-reservation gaming trust in Braman.
Johnson said that he has enjoyed working with KEDA.
“I’ve always been proud of the Kaws,” he said. “It’s been good being a part of them.”
Alemayehu has served in the Kaw Nation Environmental Department since 1998. He has overseen environmental assessment of properties purchased by the tribe, as well as the Chilocco land where the PNE Wind farm is located. Also, Alemayehu has coordinated outreach efforts to teach students in the area about wetland preservation at Beaver Creek Wetland.
Douglas has been the Kanza Museum director and the tribe’s historic preservation officer for 14 years. She published a timeline of historic Kaw Nation events in 2011. As the historic preservation officer, she oversees grave repatriation.
Unable to arrive at the ceremony, Douglas was caught by surprise when she learned about the honor. CML Committee President Dona Villa walked up from behind her, saying, “Congratulations, Crystal.”
“On what?” Douglas wondered.
“We made you an honorary Kaw,” Villa said.