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ATHENS, Ala. — For participants taking part at the weekend’s Limestone County Pow Wow, it’s not just about preserving culture, it’s about persevering through life’s toughest challenges, especially COVID-19.

“When I grew up, we were having (this) over the summers every weekend,” said Jesse Hein, who traveled from Clarksville, Tenn. to the event. “And to not have that for a year, we missed it. It’s an experience for everybody, you know? It’s a chance for everybody to get out there and dance, a chance to hang out. It’s just a really good time.”

Having passionate performances in front of the community mean the world to Limestone County’s indigenous descendants like Kevin McElyea.

“It brings our culture to the forefront,” McElyea said. “It’s all about teaching our children about our past and putting it out there for them to see.”

“I think it’s important because it means we’re still here,” Hein said. “We were taken away from a bunch of different places, not just this area. But it’s just kind of a statement for us as a culture and as a people to say, ‘We’re still here.’”

Levi Walker, known by older generations as the Atlanta braves’ Chief Noc-A-Homa now travels to Pow Wows across the southeast to sell his Chippewa-Ottawa Nation crafts.

“There’s a lot of things in our culture that people don’t know about,” Walker said. “And this is one way for them to know what it was like in the old days.”