Pow wow unites culturesPublished 1:32pm Monday, September 3, 2012
Thousands of people came out to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Rodgers Lake campus to celebrate the Labor Day weekend, as well as take part in the annual Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa Pow Wow.
The 27th annual pow wow served as a dancer’s competition and a celebration of the Native American culture Saturday and Sunday. A water walk, which began at the Gage Street lake in Dowagiac and trekked through Dowagiac to the campus, kicked off the festivities Friday. Saturday welcomed vendors and spectators as two grand entry ceremonies were held in the arena, allowing dancers to display their regalia.
“I’ve been coming for years,” Ralph Cloud, of Dowagiac, said. “I love the dancing and the food, especially the fried bread.”
Fried bread, an edible staple at the pow wow, was popular among visitors.
Cloud also said he enjoyed seeing so many people turn out to respect the Band of Potawatomi.
“There’s a lot of people celebrating the culture,” Cloud said. “It’s nice to see.”
For tribal member and secretary of the elders’ council Audrey Huston, she said she has seen the pow wow grow over the years.
“It’s really fascinating,” Huston said. “It’s become so big since we moved here to our own land.”
The pow wow welcomed visitors and spectators from all over with free admission to the grounds and free entry to the dancers’ arena. Dancers competed throughout the weekend for cash prizes while singers and drumming circles provided traditional music.
“The tiny tot dancers, all the little ones, I love watching them,” Lesa Anders, a tribal citizen and resident of Dowagiac, said. “I used to make regalia for my daughter when she danced.”
Anders also said her favorite part was the morning ceremonies, which many visitors don’t see.
“We have prayers and teachings,” Anders said. “It’s sacred for us.”