Juan Reiter of Cincinnati dances in an Apache outfit that honors his family's ancestors.
Diane Hires / Blade Enlarge
LIMA, Ohio - When Juan Reiter dances, his bound black hair bounces on his back as the fringe on his brilliant yellow and orange outfit flies and its hundreds of beads and sequins flash.
The unique vision grabs attention - and that's just the way he wants it. "I try my hardest to catch the eye," the 25-year-old Apache from Cincinnati said.
"When it's in the sun, it sparkles like I don't know what," added his mother, Shirley Reiter, who made the clothes. "It attracts people's eyes."
It did just that yesterday at the Mid-Winter Pow Wow being held in the UAW hall on Bellefontaine Avenue in Lima. Some 600 people came to the public event, which continues today. None could have missed Mr. Reiter. As the lead male dancer, he spent much of the day in the middle of the floor, leading dancers as drum groups pounded out rib-rattling rhythms.
Like many others of Native American heritage at the event, he spoke of its spiritual nature. "This is like church to me," he said.
The pleasure of being with other Indians was a draw for many as well.
"When I hear the drums, see the eagle feathers, and smell the sage, I come home," said Joyce Mahaney, a Turtle Creek Chippewa and president and founder of the Toledo American Indian Intertribal Association, which holds its own powwow in October. Her group had a booth by the door, selling jewelry and clothes.
"It's a time to come together and visit, and look at the new arts and crafts, and trade," she said of the event.
The designs for some of the dazzling handmade costumes came to their creators in visions. The public event ends this afternoon.
The event drew many folks who were curious to see what modern Native American culture is all about. Shannon McDowell of Sandusky attended with her daughter, 8, and son, 13. The children loved it.
"Every time she hears the drums, she wants to dance," Ms. McDowell said of her daughter.
As for Ms. McDowell, her interest in nature-based religions, such as paganism, made the event a good fit for her. "It's a little bit more than I thought it would be," she said. "I like it."
Many of the dancers' clothes had stories. The design for Mr. Reiter's regalia came to his mother in a vision after she searched in vain for her great-grandmother's grave in New Mexico. He loves the individuality of it.
"It doesn't have Hilfiger or Nautica on it," he said, naming two popular design houses that use prominent logos on their clothes. "You can't go to Wal-Mart and get it."
Teresa Reid, of Middletown, Ohio, wore an orange and brown dress she made over a year's time after she saw it in a vision. The knee-length dress featured 366 snuff can lids curled into cones that jingled as she danced.
"The sound is supposed to be like raindrops," she said. "It's supposed to be soothing and healing."
But its soothing sounds did not keep her from feeling anxious at the debut of the garment based on an Ojibwa legend. Miss Reid's family, however, is Cherokee.
"This is the first time I've danced in it," she said. "I was nervous. It's sacred. You have to earn the dance."
The event's organizer, Phyllis Davis of Van Wert, Ohio, said she was pleased to see the building filled with both Native Americans and other people interested in learning about them. And the music made it even better.
"Me, I'm not native, but, boy, can I feel that drum."
Contact Vanessa Winans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6168.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.