Pow wow returns over Labor Day weekend

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is proud to announce its 24th annual Kee-Boon-Mine-Kaa Pow Wow, its annual celebration of traditional singing, dancing and culture, to be held the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-6.

This is the third year the Band will be holding the Pow Wow on its own property at the tribal headquarters at Rodgers Lake, 10 miles north of Niles and five miles southwest of Dowagiac.

Holding the event on the tribal property has proven to be a big success with the public, as well as the pow wow dancers, singers and vendors.

The Band’s pow wow arena is set in the woods next to Rodgers Lake.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend, with admission and parking free for the weekend.

“Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa” in the Potawatomi language refers to the end of the huckleberry harvest, a traditional time of celebration for the Potawatomi people.

The Pow Wow again this year will be a contest pow wow, with dancers from the Great Lakes and beyond competing for prize money.

There will also be a hand drum contest on Saturday afternoon, which gives the traditional drum groups a chance to compete and to perform their songs in a quieter and more intimate setting.

Vendors will also be present selling Native artwork, jewelry, crafts and goods, as well as traditional food.

A special guest will be Irene Bedard, an Alaska Native and actress in features, including the voice of Pocahontas in the Disney animated films, the movie “The New World” and the TV mini-series “Into the West.”

There will also be presentations regarding traditional crafts and the culture, such as black ash basket-making demonstrations, copperwork demonstrations and language presentations.

A special competition this year will be a Great Lakes old-style dance contest. This came about when regular attendees of the regional Great Lakes pow wow took notice that Keen-Boon-Mein-Kaa would regularly attract a number of dancers with dance regalia that reflected traditional Potawatomi and Great Lakes styles and designs not regularly seen on the pow wow trail.

While the Pow Wow includes a Traditional Dance contest category along with contemporary dance categories, Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa wanted to have a special category to acknowledge this particular link to the beautiful ancient culture.

Part county fair, part family reunion and part traditional ceremony, the Pow Wow is a time for Native people to celebrate their identity and to visit and share with their friends in the greater community. It is a time to be with friends and family, for traditional drum groups to sing their songs, for tribal dancer to perform their steps and for craftsmen and women to display their handiwork.

Pokagon Band’s pow wow arena is located at its Rodgers Lake headquarters at 58620 Sink Road, Dowagiac, This is west of M-51 South between Dowagiac and Niles.

Take Peavine Road west from M-51 to Sink Road, then turn left (south) on Sink to the tribal property. Parking and admission are free and the event is open to the public.
Grand entries, which are the formal start of the dancing and songs, are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and at noon on Sunday.

On both mornings, the vendors set up before the dancing starts.

There will be cultural presentations as well. Gates to the pow wow grounds open at 10 a.m. both days.

For more information, contact Kevin Daugherty of the Pow Wow Committee at (269) 591-1230 or visit the Pokagon Band Web site at www.pokagon.com.