Update: This year’s Nanticoke Indian Powwow canceled

MILLSBORO — Citing health and safety dangers associated with COVID-19, organizers announced on Thursday the cancellation of the traditional Nanticoke Indian Powwow scheduled for next month.

The 43rd annual event was scheduled to be held Sept. 12-13 at the new Hudson Fields site in Milton, and designed to introduce the public to Native American customs and ways, Chief Natosha Norwood Carmine said.

“It was a heartbreaking decision to make and came after many discussions from March to June,” she said. “There are many new norms we may be prepared to handle in 2021 but we were not ready for that in 2020.”

Chief Carmean cited concerns, among others, that enforcing the wearing of face coverings and social distancing would be problematic and that failure to adhere “was not a spirit that we can allow to enter into a powwow.”

The tribe plans to hold next year’s event on Sept. 10-12 at Hudson Fields. The 2018 powwow was rained out “which makes not hosting it this year even more disappointing,” Chief Carmine said.

Powwow attendance usually averages between 12,000 to 15,000 spectators, Chief Carmine said, and the hope was to increase that this year with greater accessibility to the new venue.

The powwow serves as a major fundraiser for the nearly 700-member Nanticoke Indian Association, which has closed its museum and furloughed four paid staff members during the pandemic.

The tribe’s dance troupe hasn’t performed since February, drying up another revenue stream through donations, Chief Carmine said.

There’s plans to create a virtual tour of the museum on the association’s Nanticokeindians.org web site, where donations can also be made.

“We want people to know we’re still here and will return in some new form at some point, but we’re still trying to figure out what that will look like,” Chief Carmine said.