COLUMBIA — While it drizzled around them, a few hundred people huddled under a pavilion Saturday at the Central Missouri Events Center to watch their family dance.
But it was no ordinary family reunion. It was the seventh annual For The People Pow Wow, and the families were not related by blood.
Jesse Lee, of Knob Noster, Mo., has been bringing his children and grandchildren to the pow wow in Columbia since its inception. He considers all dancers members of his extended family, even if they belong to other tribes.
“We’re what’s left of a generation that they said would not exist,” Lee said. “We all share one common thing: we’re indigenous people and we’re still here.”
But for Lee, the pow wow is more than a family gathering — it is a spiritual experience.
“It’s like going to church and hearing the songs of our parents and grandparents,” said Lee, whose mother was a full-blood Cheyenne. “While we dance, we ask for things. Many of the songs are healing for us.”
The annual event is sponsored by the Missionary Society for the Preservation of Traditional Values and the Missouri Humanities Council.