One Story to close season with dinner, presentation

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Before the ink dries and the book closes on this year’s One Story program, organizers have one more chapter to share with the community.

The program will conclude its 2016 season with a special “Epilogue Feast” from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Pokagon Band Community Center, located at 27043 Potawatomi Trail, Dowagiac. The event, which will consist of dinner and presentation, will be offered free of charge and is open to the public, said Kristie Bussler, the Pokagon Band’s educational resource specialist and one of the main coordinators of the One Story project.

“[The event] marks the ending of our whole season, like the epilogue would normally serve in a book,” Bussler said.

The evening will begin with a buffet-style dinner, featuring Native American dishes such as buffalo, cod, wild rice casserole, corn soup, squash, fry bread, berry cobbler and an assortment of fresh fruit.

After the meal, the program will begin with a presentation by the Pokagon Band’s language apprentice Kyle Malott, who will talk about his experiences over the last several years learning the traditional Bodéwadmi language while living with members of Wisconsin’s Forest County Potawatomi Community.

After his talk, organizers will unveil artwork and stories created by participants of the One Story program earlier this year. Finally, the evening will conclude with a drum and dance demonstration, with event emcee Jefferson Ballew explaining the significance of the Potawatomi musical tradition to audiences during the performance, Bussler said.

“The goal for the evening is to not only entertain and celebrate, but also to educate,” Bussler said.

Now in its third year, the One Story project is a sort of community-wide book club organized by members of The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Dowagiac Area History Museum, Dowagiac District Library, Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival Committee, Dowagiac Union Schools, and Southwestern Michigan College. This year, the committee selected Simon Pokagon’s novel “Queen of the Woods” to serve as the centerpiece of the program, with several events focused around the themes contained within the story.

This year’s slate of programs has generated record-breaking attendance figures, with a mixture of regulars and newcomers showing up at each event, Busser said. The last program, a historic bus tour, took place Friday, with two full busloads of people visiting several landmarks throughout the area with Pokagon Band historians explaining the significance each one has to the tribe, she said.

“The response we got to that was outstanding,” Busser said. “People told us they have been hungry for this type of information for years, so they were excited for the chance to participate.”

As with previous One Story events, the epilogue feast will be offered free of charge to attendees, with the costs of hosting the event shared between the committee members and the Pokagon Band’s Project Launch program, Busser said.

The organizer promises a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere for Thursday’s feast, with the entire community welcome to attend, she said.

“Since the very beginning of the One Story program, our goal was to find a way to bring people together,” Bussler said. “At every event, the focus is to make people feel welcome and to allow them to share their story. I feel like this epilogue feast will continue to provide that, in a very comfortable setting.”