Lack of money causes Catawba Pow-Wow cancellation

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comApril 1, 2014 

— This year’s Come-See-Me festival lineup is missing one of the most well-attended events of the past four years, and organizers say a lack of money is to blame.

The Catawba Pow-Wow, which has filled the Winthrop Coliseum in years past, will not be included in this year’s spring festival because of financial constraints, tribe leaders said.

“We were disappointed when we made the decision to cancel the event this year,” said Catawba Indian Nation Chief Bill Harris, “but we hope to bring back the caliber of Pow-Wow that we have had in the past in 2015.

“We feel it is important to share tribal culture and history with York County.”

The Pow-Wow saw its funding drastically reduced this year because of changes in how grants from York County hospitality taxes can be spent by the community groups that receive them.

Tighter restrictions on how money from these grants could be spent went into effect last year, leading to funding reductions for several community events, said Mikki Rentschler, finance director for the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

Under the stricter rules, grant recipients can spend the money only on advertising and marketing for their events or activities. The Catawba Indian Nation had been spending much of its grant money on other operating expenses for the Pow-Wow, tribe spokeswoman Elizabeth Harris said.

In previous years, the Catawba Cultural Center has received $55,750 to $87,124 from the county. For this year’s event, they were given just $8,115 because of the new restrictions.

“We had to do more fundraising this year than we have in the past,” Elizabeth Harris said. “We just didn’t reach our fundraising goal.”

The Pow-Wow, which was scheduled to welcome performers from as far away as Florida and Oklahoma, has been the largest event each year in the Catawba community, bringing visitors from all over the country and even from other nations, said Kathy Wilson, administrative assistant with the Come-See-Me festival.

“It’s a great event,” she said. “We were sorry to hear it’s not being included this year.”

The Catawbas have always had to supplement the county-provided grant money through sponsorships from businesses and Indian country, Elizabeth Harris said.

“We do that every year,” she said. “It was just that this year, we had a much higher goal of fundraising than we have in the past.”

In December, the Catawba Indian Nation created a donation page on the crowd-funding website “Go Fund Me,” with a goal of raising $75,000. As of this week, the page had been shared more than 150 times through social media sites, but 11 people had donated only $275.

On the Pow-Wow’s Facebook page, people from the area and elsewhere expressed disappointment that this year’s event was canceled.

“We’ve told (people) that we’ll try to regroup for next year,” Elizabeth Harris said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to bring it back next year.”

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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