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story.lead_photo.caption At left, Larry Sellers chats with 7-year-old Ava Smith as her mother, Darcie Tone-Pah-Hote, looks on during Sunday's Pow Wow for the People event at the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fairgrounds. Sellers was the guest of honor at the event. He is a Native American actor who played "Cloud Dancing" on the 1990s television show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Photo by Gerry Tritz / Fulton Sun.

Sunday's Pow Wow for the People event drew Native Americans from across the state who came to enjoy socializing, dancing, music and food.

The 10th annual event has been held in Jefferson City for the past three years.

"I'm Chota and Cherokee and I come to the pow wows a lot," said Karen Findora of Kansas City. "I like the music and I like to talk to the elders. They have a lot of wisdom and knowledge of the past and how we should live our lives."

She brought her granddaughter, Ava Smith, 7, so that she could be exposed to her heritage.

One person they chatted with during the event was Larry Sellers, the guest of honor. Sellers is a Native American actor/stuntman known for his role as Cloud Dancing on the 1990s television show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman."

Sellers said the pow wows are based around honor, dignity and integrity.

"But the foundation is respect," Sellers said. "That's the foundation for all indigenous nations. That's how we survived together for thousands of years without destroying each other. And when you have that respect, it automatically introduces that honor, dignity and integrity because it's built within the culture and it's also incorporated in the language in how you refer to people."

Today's society has "lost a tremendous amount" of such concepts, he said. For some societies, respect is about power and control, he said, but indigenous societies' concept of respect is "about opening your heart and giving of yourself and understanding what humanity is, rather than trying to control and dominate it."

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Greg Olson, the Pow Wow committee chairman, doesn't have Indian heritage, but got interested in the culture through his work as a historian.

"A lot of people say there's no Indians, native people in Missouri. That's because there's no settlements or reservations. But, in fact, there are people all over," Olson said.

He said pow wow's are important events for people with native heritage to meet other people and learn about the pow wow tradition.

One of the traditions on display on Sunday was gourd dancing, which is performed by veterans, while a circle of drummers perform in the middle of the dancing area. The dance honors veterans, Olson said.

Pow wows are held at various locations throughout the summer, and are sort of like family reunions for many of the regulars. But anyone is invited to come and experience the heritage, Olson said.


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