Students learn about Pokagon culture

Published 8:41 am Tuesday, March 19, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Students at Dowagiac Union High School recently learned more about local culture.

The Dowagiac Union High School culinary arts class recently had Michaelina “Micky” Martin from the Pokagon Band Food Sovereignty Committee visit its classroom to discuss the history, language and cuisine of the Potawatomi Native American culture. 

“I was very impressed with Mrs. Martin’s guest speaker appearance,” said Andy Kruger, Dowagiac’s culinary arts teacher. “She shared some great information with my class about the culture, history and food of the Pokagon Band’s culture.” 

During her presentation, Martin discussed the meaning of the name Dowagiac means a gathering place. She said Dowagiac had everything their ancestors needed to survive, including the climate, plants and water. She also talked of Chief Pokagon and the tribe’s ties to Notre Dame. She handed out braids of sweet grass as awards — a native plant that promotes good health — to students Gabe Aranda and Madison Helmuth for answering the most questions about their research they did prior to her coming to class. 

In two weeks, Kruger’s class will be going to Roger’s Lake to learn about sugar bushing, or tapping maple syrup trees, hosted by the Pokagon Band.  The class has also been invited to Four Winds in New Buffalo to get a tour of their kitchen and the type of jobs they have in the food industry.