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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Comanche Homecoming
by Paula Karty - Comanche Nation News Staff

Reflecting on the Roots of the Comanche Nation’s Oldest Gathering

Singers sing the Walters Homecoming song during grand entry of the celebration. Four drums are needed to accommodate all the singers that came out to sing and enjoy the pow-wow. (photo by Paula Karty Comanche Nation News Staff)

The Comanche Homecoming Pow-wow is always held on the third weekend in July at Sultan Park in Walters, Okla. This is the Comanche Nation’s oldest celebration of all time. People come from all over during the hottest weekend of year, setting up their air conditioned RV’s and ready to contest, BUT that’s not how it’s always been.

Back in the 40’s during war time, a certain solider was returning home from the war. The family of Kelly Poemoceah was so proud and honored, plus they were extremely glad that he was finally returning home.

The family wanted to do something to honor Poemoceah. The family decided to have a big celebration. The family didn’t have a place to have the celebration, so they approached the City of Walters and asked to use the park (Sultan Park). The City of Walters allowed the family to have the celebration at the park. Because of this celebration, the Walters Homecoming Pow-wow was born.

Many families set up their camps at the park. Campsites could be seen throughout the park. Old canvas tents and arbors adorned the park. Camp fires would be burning with metal pots of food cooking. Under the arbors you could see many W u t u raa ( a bed made of wooden saw horses, plywood and a mattress), long tables with wooden benches, some would even bring refrigerators. There would be a table set up just for the water, some would have metal water buckets with a dipper.

The women would be by the fire bending over cooking meat stirring the pots of food. Each camp would invite visitors over during the supper break to share a meal. It didn’t matter who you were, the campers would make sure that everyone had a meal at supper time.

Each family had a certain place they would camp every year and to this day those same families still camp in the same spot. A person who is knowledgeable about the pow-wow could be able to walk through the park and tell exactly where certain families camp.

Vendors would set up around the arena, as to now days vendors are set up along the road. The rows of chairs around the arena would be at least six deep.

The kids would be playing around a certain cement circle that still exist today. The circle is located on the Northwest side of the arena. Those kids have grown up and now their grandchildren play around that same circle. The use of that circle is unknown

The late Mr. Meja would always have his snow cone stand. He had a old time ice shaver that he would scrape by hand and he only had two flavors, grape and cherry.

Many people would not dance all year until Walters Pow-wow. They would break out all their regalia and dance all weekend. The temperature didn’t seem to bother anyone. It would be over 100 degrees in the shade and still people would be out in the arena.

The late Elrod “Crutch” Monoessy would walk around the arena with his metal water bucket making sure the dancers had plenty of water. He would also have a water bucket for the drummers making sure they had plenty of water also.

The atmosphere was pleasing. The dance wasn’t a contest pow-wow, folks came out to dance and enjoy themselves. It really didn’t matter how much prizes money there was for the contest, and the giveaways didn’t go on hours.

After the pow-wow families would go to other peoples tent and drink coffee and visit.

The 49 (aka 9) would start after the pow-wow which is usually the highlight of the pow-wow, the younger kids would have to go to bed when this started. The 49 would go on all night. The older folks would sit and watch the 49 and visit for a while before going to bed.

The men would stand in the middle of the arena hold a drum and sing all night long. The women would either stand behind their man or dance and sing. These songs are known as War Journey songs. Some of these songs have some English words incorporated in them such as, “One Eyed-Ford,” “Give Me Five Minutes More,” “When The Sun Goes Down At Night,” “That Kiss You Gave Me,” this is just a few of the English words in some of the songs.

Early in the morning before the flag is raised and the 49 is over the kids that were up cleaned the arena. The kids were given a large trash bag and they cleaned the whole arena. After the arena was cleaned they did the “Rabbit Dance.” A singer would come out to the arena and sing a certain Rabbit song. The kids would hold their hands to the side of their heads, point there finger up and jump up and down to the beat of the song. After the song was over they were given candy or they got to go to Mr. Meja for a grape or cherry snow cone.

The flag to be fl own was and is always of a deceased veteran, which was raised by other veterans. The Comanche Flag song was sung, while family members stood and watched as the flag of their family member was raised.

Along the campsites you could smell wood burning or see women building fire to start preparing breakfast.

People would gather at the arena to receive rations given to each camp to help out with a meal. The rations would consist of a large piece of meat, flour, eggs, bread and some canned food, sometimes there would be some coffee and sugar.

On Sunday morning of the pow-wow there would be either a church service or a Comanche Hymn singing.

Now days it has become more modern, instead of the old canvas tents and arbors, you see more RV trailers or little pop-up tents. You don’t see any W u t u raa, you don’t see many people cooking on open fire. The children don’t Rabbit Dance anymore.

The campsites are still there and the same families still camp in the same spots, that is one thing that will never die.

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