What is a head veteran and what does he/she do at gatherings?
First a head veteran must be a veteran, Duh!
I have been to some 'powwows' of late and one way or another found out that a head veteran was, in fact, never a veteran!
Next he/she must be a native American, there are many way to see if one is a native and a few ways to see if he/she is a veteran.
So no need to go into this, if you have been reading my past postings and many of you have, than you know my feelings about that.
To completely understand where I am coming from with sacred ceremonies like our gatherings and also see why the responsibility of a head veteran is now, but never should have been diminished, let's start with paw-paus and head veteran?
A paw- paus as with all gatherings before first contact was assigned by the Sachem through the Head Clan Mother to take full control of the event.
Like the Powwow's of today, those gatherings were started at a monthly meeting long before the event, so everyone in the tribe knew in advance what their job was.
The Sachem or Head Clan Mother assigned the Head Veterans job to the warrior with the most knowledge of the tribe to run the Paw-paus.
This person became the Chief of the gathering, so for a smooth outing everyone worked under this warrior, everyone except the Head Clan Mother!
As Sachem and many times a head veteran, I worked under the Head Clan Mother at our paw paus, less confusion from everybody!
With our people if this warrior (Head Veteran) said that you are a Native American, you are a native American!
Not only is this right, old warriors have a way with knowing just who is and who is not!
The MC with permission from the Head Clan Mother, controlled the singing, dancing and what dance at what time.
The lead drum controlled songs and which drum group drums which dance.
The Head Veteran controls everything else!
How on earth did the word 'arena director' get into a powwow?
Arena directors run rodeos, Fairs, circus, and carnivals out west someplace don't they?
East entry started after this head veteran checked that everything and everyone is ready to dance, gave the signal to the MC and unless carrying the Sacred Staff, stayed at the ready at the gate.
At a paw-paus, any bird or animal was always allowed into the circle as long as they wished to be in the circle, never tied or chained as with powwow.
If you are dancing in this type of circle and see a feather drop or spot a feather and are positive that it is only a costume feather, pick it up and carry it out of the circle with you, hand it to the head veteran, if you are not sure, protect that feather, no veteran worth his or her salt will think less of you one way or the other.
I was at a 'powwow' not so long ago and a native girl about 12ish, saw three Eagle feathers drop from an Alaskan dancers regalia, she danced over the feathers until a 'dancer' from a Canadian tribe can along picked up the feathers walked backwards through the circle and handed them to the Alaskan!
This is what our gatherings are coming to !
After things calmed down and out of sight I walked both 'men' out of the gathering!
I found the young girl and family, through a ceremony and with a blessing for Creator, handed her a prayer pouch with some of my grandfathers tobacco (Kinnick Kinnick) in it and made sure that she knew that she was 100% correct!
Sachem Tallfox a proud WW-2 Veteran, Sachem Zeak wounded at the sub base before service and could not serve. Sachem Walkingfox a proud Vietnam Veteran.