Pokagon youth to host Community Mini Pow Wow

Published 7:57 am Wednesday, April 3, 2019

DOWAGIAC — The Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians is an open and welcoming entity in the greater Michiana community. It gives plentifully for various charities and causes and opens many of its regular and special events to the public.

Many locals may be familiar with the traditional pow wows of the Pokagon Band, but for the first time from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Pokagon Band youth program will host its first Community Mini Pow Wow. The Community Mini Pow Wow will take place at the Pokagon Band Community Center, located at 57781 Daily Road, in Dowagiac.

Pow wows are events of dancing and singing, feasting and socializing, often stretching for a few days, according to Rebecca Williams, the youth cultural coordinator and youth council advisor for the Pokagon Band. The idea of the mini pow wow was to have the fun and fellowship of a traditional pow wow in the scope of a few hours.

The Pokagon Band has previously hosted community pow wows on weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day, but the youth council of the Pokagon Band was looking for a way to bring the community together to celebrate the arrival of spring, Williams said.

“[The youth council] wanted to do some more cultural events to bring people together,” Williams said. “The youth council talked about goals for 2019, and one was to have a mini pow wow. This time of year, winter is wrapping up and everyone wants to see each other. Basically, we’re bringing everyone together after being in their houses all winter long to socialize, dance and listen to some good music after the winter.”

The youth council of the Pokagon Band is comprised of about 10 to 20 active members, Williams said, and operates under the umbrella of the youth program in the Language and Culture Department in coordination with the Education Department. The council has hosted other events like the recent Community Talent Show, worked with Adopt a Highway and volunteered for other local efforts. For Williams, the youth council taking on the planning of community events is more about what it teaches the youth than just the social component.

“I think it puts things into perspective for them,” she said. “It shows them if they want something done, you have to follow through in doing it. Project-based learning is essentially what they’re doing.”

Participating in the decisions and planning of events in the Pokagon Band is also what Williams called “grooming [the youth] to be our future tribal leaders.” She has already seen young people in her program step outside the bounds of the tribe to be leaders throughout their communities, she said.

“It’s about being able to work with youth and helping them to be our leaders in our community right now,” Williams said.

Williams also believes opening such events as the traditional and mini pow wows is vital for communities at large because it allows people outside of the Pokagon Band the opportunity to see the culture, history and heritage of indigenous peoples up close.

“It’s good for the public to come out to be exposed to our culture and to see we’re still here,” Williams said.