North Carolina Woman Tells Tales of Oklahoma Tribes

Friday, August 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Concord, N.C. -- Rosetta Arkeketa LeClair's face beams with pride as she talks about her people's history and culture.

Dressed simply in Native American clothing, she clearly resembled the serene Indian maiden often portrayed in folklore. The delicate hand-made, white and blue beaded moccasins worn on her feet display the fine craftsmanship of the American Indian.

Seventy-two-years old, LeClair has lived on the Ponca Indian Reservation in Oklahoma for 68 years. Her mother was an Indian of the Ponca tribe and her father was born of the Otoe tribe Indians.

LeClair said Oklahoma is the state with the largest number of Indian tribes, although many of them are not federally recognized by the government.

"Each Indian tribe is different," said LeClair. "Each tribe of Indians wears different clothing, speaks different languages, and conducts unique ceremonies which identify them from other tribes."

This is the main reason LeClair says she chose to visit Concord this week. She wants to help educate others on the Native American culture. She plans to perform the Southern Plains Indian Cultural Dance at the annual Frank Liske Park Pow-Wow scheduled at 7 tonight and from 10 a.m. until after 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The traditional family oriented pow-wow will be a gathering of people who come together to dance, socialize and have fun while learning about Native American culture. Indian tribes from all over the United States are expected to participate, and the public is invited to attend at no charge. There also will be vendors available to sell Native American crafts and souvenirs and food booths.

This marks the seventh year a pow-wow has been held at Frank Liske Park. It was originated by Native American Grandma Little Bird. She came to Cabarrus County and contacted the local Parks and Recreation Department to have the event held officially at the park. When she died, George Edwards, of Monroe, took over as chairperson.

George Hoyt, a Concord resident, is co-chairperson of the pow-wow this year. He has studied Native American culture for 45 years. He and his wife Eileen also participate in pow-wows all over the country as lead dancers. They both are members of the American Indian Craft Association of North Carolina (AICA).

Hoyt, 60, and his wife first met at a national Indian pow-wow held in Illinois when they were 15. They agree their passion for Native American culture evolved when they were children in Illinois.

"My first experience of the culture occurred when I was a Boy Scout, and we went on an expedition which featured an Indian group creating bead work," said Mr. Hoyt. "I've been interested in Indian craftsmanship and culture every since."

Mrs. Hoyt, 59, said she grew up watching her father create bead work and experienced her first Indian dance at a Camp Fire Girls event.

After becoming married years later after their first meeting, the couple moved to Concord in 1986 from Le Grange, Ill., after Mr. Hoyt transferred his employment to Electronic Data Systems in Charlotte.