Pokagon Band hosts Potawatomi Gathering

Published 2:20 am Friday, July 21, 2006

By By JOHN EBY / Dowagiac Daily News
Dowagiac's Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians hosts The Tribal Gathering of all Potawatomi Indians July 27-30, attracting thousands of members from across the Midwest to its Sink Road headquarters in Pokagon Township.
The nine Potawatomi Bands meet every year at a different location to celebrate and to recognize that at one time all were part of one Potawatomi Nation.
The Pokagon Band hosted The Gathering for the first time in 1999 at its Gage Street property in Wayne Township.
"We are excited and busy making plans to host 3,000 tribal members for The Gathering," Dan Rapp and Judy Winchester, co-chairs of the Pokagon Band Gathering committee, said Thursday in a joint statement.
"Tribal members will be staying in hotels and campgrounds in Dowagiac, St. Joseph, Niles and South Bend," Ind. "This is a special event where we honor our ancestors and celebrate our culture."
Besides the Pokagon Band, the others are the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Athens, Mich., Gun Lake, Hannahville Bands of Michigan, Forest County (Wis.), Citizen Potawatomi (Okla.), Prairie Band (Kan.) and Walpole Island and Wasauksing Band, (Ontario, Canada).
Theme of the 2006 Potawatomi gathering is "Honoring our Youth."
The Pokagon Band is young and growing.
Of its 3,000 members, more than two-thirds are 40 years of age and younger, with half of that group still under 18.
"Each Potawatomi Nation is thankful for their youth and this Gathering will show our appreciation," Pokagon Band Chairman John Miller said. "This event is a way to thank our elders and help our children understand the Potawatomi culture.
"The perseverance and patience of the Potawatomi people is a testament to the generations that came before us. Our children are one of our most important treasures and they undoubtedly strengthen our tribal community," Miller said.
The Gathering will include a pow-wow-princess contest, workshops, an elders corner that will include storytelling and sharing, a community dance, a scavenger hunt and a traditional dinner.
Tribal members begin each day with the sharing of ideas and blessings in a traditional sunrise ceremony.