Pokagon Band youth host Mini Pow Wow in Dowagiac

Published 9:08 am Monday, April 8, 2019

DOWAGIAC — On one of the first bright and shining days of Michigan’s early spring, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi opened the doors of The Pokagon Band Community Center, set a drum in the center of the floor and sang and danced to welcome the season and celebrate their heritage.

Saturday, the tribe hosted a Community Mini Pow Wow led by its young leaders. The event went from noon to 6 p.m., was open to the public and ended with a feast.

The pow wow was the first that the Pokagon youth council has hosted, and many, including Pokagon government manager Jason Wesaw and Pokagon youth council chair Wahsnoday Pamp, were pleasantly surprised at the turnout.

“This exceeded expectations by miles,” Pamp said. “We were expecting nowhere near as many people to come through.”

Saturday’s mini pow wow paled in comparison to the larger traditional pow wows, according to Wesaw, but he was still pleased at the initiative of the youth council and purpose of the event.

“This is more of just like a community social and getting everybody out after a long winter,” Wesaw said. “It’s great. It’s very important to know where their role is in the community.”

During the pow wow, Wesaw took to the microphone to praise the youth council for organizing the event. He said more than being a well-organized social event, the mini pow wow was an opportunity for the rest of the tribe to acknowledge the work of the youth.

“People came here today to do this, so it supports the youth and their efforts,” Wesaw said. “It’s really important for them to understand that they have a voice and that people listen to them and that we’re here to support them in what their interests and endeavors are.”

For youth council members like Emily Potter, Wesaw’s words were further affirmation of the necessity of such involvement from the youth and recognition of a job well done. She believes the youth have an obligation to be involved and to stay connected to their heritage.

“I wanted to start pushing for more events that we can do,” Potter said. “I think we need to be more connected with our culture. We need to remember what our roots were, and I think it’s good to remember our past.”

Pamp shared similar sentiments as Potter and also noted the importance of maintaining a relationship with the older generations in the tribe.

“The elders and the regular community and the youth don’t get together often, and I think that’s very important to our tribe it’s part of our cultures that we’re one big family, so organizing events like these helps bring that family together,” Pamp said.