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This weekend was wonderful! We started it with family….and ended it with family!

Saturday, we went to a family reunion for Mike’s dad’s side of the family. Most of them, he has not seen since he was a little boy. I had not met most of them, some I haven’t seen since our wedding, 17 and half years ago!

The reunion was in Tahlequah, an hours drive away, and also coincided with Cherokee National Holiday. This holiday is a BIG deal. Well, if you are Indian, Cherokee specifically, it is a HUGE deal! It is an entire weekends event with months and months and months of planning!

HUGE deal.

Unfortunately, Mike has never been close with his dad, so the Indian part of his family, kind of got lost in the shuffle of life. Because of this, the boys Indian heritage got lost in the mix as well. Life is just kind of like that. Mike is Indian, and the boys are Indian, even I’m Indian, but a much LESSER degree, probably not even recognizable, not like Mike and the boys. LOL We are very proud of this….we are, but we just didn’t really pursue that side. Yes, it’s shameful. I’m ashamed. I’m dealing with that.

So, while we were there, we discovered this BIG National Holiday going on down there, so we decided to stay and check things out. I am so very very glad we did! What started out as “just a reunion for a few hours, home by dinner” turned into shops and speeches by the Chief, food, museums, gorgeous photos, and a huge Pow Wow!

The boys participated in their FIRST Pow Wow! It was simply A*MAZING! I could not have been happier!

Mike has been to them, I’ve been to them, however, our boys have never been to one, truth be told, probably didn’t even know what it was.

We got there early, but the sun was blazing down, it was hot, the kids were tired and more than one occasion I heard, “Mom, can we just go?”

(hehehehe…I LOVED the bottom of this lady’s dress! I loved the tags and the bright colors! But getting the picture meant laying facedown in the very wet grass. Mike has probably already disowned me for it, but I love the shot. 😉 But here, you can see how LARGE the dancing circle was: in the upper left corner, those are the lady dancers on the other side of the circle.)

But when things got going, and the inner circle of drummers came out and quietly started playing, then dancers started slowly coming out to the large circle, I didn’t hear the complaints so much.

A large drum sat in the middle, and the drummers sat around it and all played. It was incredible! The men danced around the circle, while the women stayed on the outskirts of the circle. The men took steps, the women only moved their feet (which meant some creative photography trying to get the above photo!).

There is definite protocol and rules to the dances, but I don’t know most of them. But I plan on learning!

Yes, he was looking directly at me. No, you cannot tell. LOL Brooklyn started out TERRIFIED of this Indian, but he ended up being her favorite!

By the time the fancy dancers started coming out for the Grand Entry, the kids were excited!

I’m so sorry this one was not entirely focused. The lighting was HORRID by now, but I had to get this shot!

By dark, the Grand Entry brought in ALL of the fancy dancers and the women in gorgeous dresses and breathtaking shawls! By now, the kids are awe-struck!

And while I was standing at the entrance of the circle to take pictures, the boys came up behind me and said they were going in on the first Open dance. My boys don’t do this. My boys don’t like having attention of any kind on them. They are not “joiners”. So for them to go ON THEIR OWN, without Mike or I, to go in and dance, I was shocked.

And so very proud. I wish I could have gotten pictures of that, but they were in the very center of the circle.

There is Pow Wow etiquette, and because I do not know all of the “rules” yet, I was afraid to go in to take pictures. So I stood outside the circle and took pictures as they FLEW by! And I do mean FLEW!

But this little girl….oh be still my heart….

Mike and I are so sorry we did not foster this side of the kids heritage. But we have promised to do better. We will be learning more, and taking them to more things. They deserve that. It was incredible!

I’ll share more photos later, but I still haven’t finished editing all of them! LOL

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