Native tribes celebrate the 26th annual Monacan Powwow

Bertie Branham of the Monacan tribe cooks corn cakes and venison the traditional way during the 26th annual Monacan powwow. (Photo: Whitney Burney)

AMHERST Co., Va. (WSET)---The Monacan tribe celebrated at the 26th annual powwow on Sunday afternoon.

Tribe members say powwows are a place where different tribes can get together, share history and practice tradition.

"I'm going back to the 1600s. We had to cook everything on the stones back then," said Bertie Branham as she brushed rendered bear fat on a hot stone. "All the ladies would gather around and do the cooking."

The Monacan tribe said Sunday was about their history.

"It's to let people know who we are and what we're about. We want people to come and see that and learn about us," said Monacan Tribe Chief Dean Branham.

Members of the Monacan tribe say this year's powwow is special.

"We've been fighting for federal recognition for almost 20 years," said Carolyn Elliott."We have even bigger pride than we ever have this year."

This comes after the Monacan tribe received federal recognition in January 2018. They say with it, members of their tribe will have more opportunity for success in life.

"It makes us applicable to get grants to help the elderly people with healthcare, housing, to help these kids who are trying to get scholarships to college," said Chief Branham.

They say it's been a long time coming.

"I just wish that my grandmother, my grandfather, of course my son that passed on could be here to see that we've got federal recognition after all these years. It is very dear to me," said Bertie Branham.

The tribe leaders say the one of the most important things to them is making sure their history is never lost.

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