Tribute to Richard and Birdie Crowe

The 2012 Spirit of Nations Powwow honors the memory of Richard and Birdie Crowe, of Cherokee, NC, who were our frybread vendors for the early Knoxville powwows.  They also demonstrated the art of blowgun making and the creation of cornbead necklaces. 

richard crowe birdie

richard powwow
Richard Crowe was always a hit with his blowgun and dart making at the Knoxville Powwow.

birdie beads
Birdie is shown here making cornbead necklaces during "Kids' Day" at one of the Knoxville Powwows.
blow gun richard
Here Richard Crowe explains how points are scored for a blowgun competition.  Looks like some good shooting!
fry bread stand
Richard and Birdie Crowe, along with some of their family members, set up their popular fry bread booth at the powwow.  Birdie carefully guarded her recipe.
 crowe family
Richard Crowe is pictured here with one of his sons,, Alva, and his daughter-in-law Nancy.
richard and alan
Richard Crowe explains to Alan Williams of WVLT-TV Channel 8 the art of drilling out river cane to produce a quality blowgun.  Richard loved sharing his craft with adults and children each year at the  Kids' Day activities
richard and birdie
Birdie and Richard Crowe are shown here in an early publicity photo used to promote their programs for festivals and powwows.
In Memory of Richard (1927- 2002) and Birdie Crowe (1930-2007)

Richard Crowe, a veteran of the United States Air Force during World War II, and his wife Birdie, worked with us at the Knoxville powwow from its very beginning.  Richard and Birdie were well known in Knoxville and around the Southeast for their frybread and Indian tacos.  Richard was also skilled in making and shooting blowguns, while Birdie often demonstrated making cornbead necklaces.  Richard, famous for his woodcarving, would create dolls that Birdie would dress in traditional Cherokee clothing.  They also often put up their tipi on the powwow grounds, which helped draw attention to the event.  Richard’s blessing of the arena and his prayers in the Cherokee language will be long remembered.  Richard and Birdie made a wonderful couple and it was always a pleasure to work with them.

For many years, Richard and Birdie gave presentations on Cherokee culture, both for tourists in Cherokee, NC, and at schools, festivals, and powwows in many different states.  He organized a group to showcase traditional Cherokee dances, the first group of its kind on the reservation, where they both grew up and attended the local boarding school.  In addition to these programs, Richard spent some time as an actor, appearing in the outdoor drama, “Unto These Hills,” in Cherokee, NC.  He also had a role in the Disney movie, “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.”

On a personal note, Sherry and I will never forget how Richard and Birdie helped make our Cherokee wedding special at the 1993 powwow.  Richard, who was the Goodwill Ambassador for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was Sherry’s escort into the arena for the ceremony.  Birdie was there to celebrate with us, wearing a brand new ribbon dress.

Richard and Birdie were not just great supporters of the powwow, but outstanding people, and wonderful friends to us all.

Mark Finchum, President,
Indian Creek Productions, Inc.