Mount Trashmore’s 11th Annual Pow Wow Gallery

Mount Trashmore’s 11th Annual Pow Wow Gallery

Vincent Shilling

For the past eleven years, the Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation has hosted their annual American Indian powwow for the Hampton Roads public. In the past eleven years since Virginia Beach has held the powwow, the popularity of the event caused them to relocate in 2010 from the smaller Red Wing Park to the infamous landfill-turned recreation area Mount Trashmore.

Administrators that work at Mt. Trashmore, a 70-foot tall mountain covering an approximate 640,000 pounds of garbage, and known to be the highest point in Virginia Beach can once again boast about the successful 11th Annual Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation American Indian Powwow held on April 23rd.

Debbie Vick, Recreation Specialist I for the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the organizer of the event expected the success in 2011. Two hours into the 7 hour event, Vick remarked, “Already the turnout has been awesome. It is only 1:30 pm and we have probably seen 5,000 people and lots more are coming. Grand Entry was amazing, I was worried at first because the food vendors were slow, but it was only because Grand Entry was incredible. You could not have asked for a better day.”

Frank Guite’ (Seneca) a Virginia Beach resident and vendor of Blueskye Designs Beaded Jewelry, was also pleased about the success of the day and claimed business was great.  Guite’ also noted that because his father was in the military, he came to Virginia Beach in 1965. He saw firsthand the transition of Mt. Trashmore from landfill to park. “I saw Mt Trashmore when it was a dump. I remember they had to put pipes because of all the methane gas. They were afraid it was going to blow up.”

At the lunch break, Guite’ also made the transition from vendor to storyteller and shared the Mohawk story of the origin of the rabbit dance to the crowd.

For the majority of the day, spirits were high and the public seemed to enjoy the festivities at the base of the mountain.  Virginia Beach resident Serena Amerson who attended the powwow with her husband J. Fender and son Miles said, “I had a most enjoyable afternoon at the 11th annual Pow-Wow held at Mt. Trashmore (a bit ironic that it was held at the site of a former trash dump).  A Pow-Wow offers us the chance to share the story of the ancestry of Native Americans, and it’s importance-then and now.  It’s so interesting to learn about the various aspects, from the authentic regalia to what each dance/song means.”

Amerson also said she enjoyed reconnecting with Mother Earth and her son loved the drum circle and his new dance stick, adorned with rabbit fur & bells.

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms also commented on the event, “I’m thrilled that Virginia Beach has been hosting the pow wow for 11 years. This is such a big, diverse city, and I’m constantly amazed at how many people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds live here. Native Americans have a lot to be proud of.”

Mike Watts (Meherrin) who said he came to enjoy a great powwow summed up the day in an interesting way fitting to Mt. Trashmore. “It’s interesting that this was once a dump and today it is sacred ground.”

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