American Indians head for Calder Vale pow-wow

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American Indians hailing from Oklahoma are stomping their way to a country club pow-wow on Sunday.

The group, known as the Oklahoma Masonic Indian Degree Team, is currently on its fourth tour of the UK, and has been performing traditional American Indian dances for audiences since it arrived last Wednesday.

Team leader Butch McIntosh said: “It has been outstanding the way we have been received. We have made lifelong friendships.”

The 11-strong contingent are dancing at Masonic events until next Thursday, March 17, but this Sunday, March 13, they will be providing an open performance at Calder Vale Country Club, near Garstang.

Entertainment organiser at Calder Vale, Peter Molloy, said: “It’s a once in a lifetime chance. It will be a shame for anybody who wants to see it to miss it.”

Dressed in authentic American Indian attire, the Oklahoma troupe stomp to four main styles of dance; gentlemanly, tribal, warrior, and what Butch calls the highlight of the show, the “fancy dance” – originally envisaged by the famous Buffalo Bill for his Wild West Show.

Back in the United States, the team often takes part in tribal pow-wow dancing competitions, which can be attended by as many as 50,000 spectators.

Though, as Butch mentions, the group can dance anywhere. “We make a circle and it does not matter where it is - it can be a Wal-Mart car park.

“Once we make the circle it is like a spiritual ground. We stomp our feet and we make a connection.”

During the UK tours, the team is based in Blackpool. Hotel owner Norman Prue is always happy to welcome them back, and has even been a guest of the group in Oklahoma.

“They are really fantastic people, and are happy to talk about their way of life.”

Norman is always surprised by the team’s willingness to dance at schools, and talk to the children about their culture. “If they get a call from a school, at the drop of the hat they are off,” he said.

Butch explained the group’s passion for visiting schools: “We love to teach the children our way of life. All they know is what they see on TV.”

Butch has danced for 16 years after serving 33 years in the military, though many in the troupe have danced since childhood. For Butch, the dancing is a return to his roots: “I went to Indian school, but we were made to forget our Indian world and instead learn the ways of the white world. The Indian people are a very spiritual people.”

* Sunday, March 13, 8pm, Calder Vale Country Club, Free entry, Voluntary payments