Pokagon citizen recognized with eagle feather ceremony

Published 10:00 am Friday, March 8, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Thursday afternoon, Dowagiac resident Brian Antisdel stood in front of his tribe and blinked away tears as he proudly held a single, gray feather in the air.

“I hope I have honored you,” he said to a crowd inside of the Pokagon Band Community Center, his voice thick with emotion. “Because I love you. I love our name. I love who the Pokagon people are.”

During their regularly scheduled monthly meeting Thursday, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ Elders Council hosted an eagle feather ceremony in honor of local tribal citizen Antisdel. Antisdel, who is also the owner of IT3 Computer Solutions, LLC in downtown Dowagiac, was honored for the volunteer work he does locally and throughout the entire county, according to Elders Council representatives.

“Receiving an eagle feather is the highest honor among our people,” said Judy Winchester, chair of the Elders Council. “This is a way to thank him for all he has done.”

Antisdel is a member of the Cajun Navy, a group of volunteer organizations that assists in search and rescue missions following disasters. Over the years, Antsidel has volunteered for many disaster relief and search and rescue missions including in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Florence and Maria, and following the California wildfires last year. During Thursday’s ceremony, Antisdel spoke about several of his missions including when he provided aid to native protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests in 2016. 

As he talked about his missions, Antisdel became filled with emotion and said that learning to give back changed his life for the better.

“I used to be a bad guy. I used to be a lost soul,” he said. “Now, I have changed. I just want to do things from the heart and not want anything in return. I used to take. … Now, I want to give.”

Thursday’s ceremony was the first time the Elders Council had hosted such an event to honor a community member, Winchester said. Because of Antsidel’s many missions and the way that he can inspire others to give back, Winchester said that Antsidel was the right subject to honor with an eagle feather ceremony.

“As elders, it is an honor to give back in this way,” she said. “[Antisdel] takes himself to very adventurous and severe places where people have had catastrophes happen. He has had people from our community and all over donate and volunteer. He does this not just to do anything for himself, but it is all for others. He is very selfless.”

Antsidel said he was honored and humbled by being chosen for an eagle feather ceremony. Going forward, he said he plans to continue to serve others any way he can — in fact, directly after leaving Thursday’s ceremony, he prepared to leave for another mission to deliver supplies and work on damaged homes in Tennessee. As he continues to give back, Antisdel said he has two hopes: that he can help people and that he can continue to make the Pokagon people proud.

“The Pokagon way is to give back,” he said. “I have to help. We have to help each other.”