MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Preparations are underway for a community pow wow in Manistique.
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is hosting its first-ever Niiwin Noodin Pow Wow June 9 – 10.
“Pow wow is another word for ‘celebration dance,’ so what we’re doing is we’re joining together as a time for celebration of life,” explained Sault Tribe board director Kimberly Hampton. “It is named ‘Niiwin Noodin,’ so that’s ‘four winds.'”
This week, volunteers are reconstructing and repainting the ring where much of that celebration will take place.
“It’s kind of a sacred place inside that circle,” said Tim Derwin, pow wow planning committee member. “It’s all part of Mother Earth, and she’s a very important part of our lives, so we want to take good care of her and take care of the things that she’s given us to use.”
The tribe is bringing Indigenous performers together from outside Manistique for the pow wow. According to planning committee member Wendy Martin, they are making their guests feel welcome in a unique way.
“We are soliciting host families this year for our traditional singers, dancers, drummers,” Martin said. “We had an amazing outpouring of love from the community. This way, we were able to join our cultures.”
Other activities will include a water ceremony, teachings from elders, a craft fair with more than two dozen Indigenous vendors, and a community feast. All are invited to attend the pow wow, whether they are a member of the Sault Tribe or not.
“We actually encourage everybody to come so then they can see our culture,” said Hampton. “There’s a lot of stigmas. People think that they can’t come to an Indigenous pow wow or that there are certain things they have to do to even view. There’s not. Just come in and if you have questions, feel free to ask.”
One way that culture will be on display is through the youth drum group. Pow wow coordinators say the children are the most important resource for keeping the tribe’s traditions alive.
“There was a lot of lost knowledge over the years and with what’s happened historically with the culture of Native Americans across the nation,” said pow wow vendor coordinator Gail Sulander. “It was an oral tradition of passing things on, so there isn’t a lot of books you can read on how to do something–survival skills, spirituality, the stories. If we don’t teach that to our youth, then it’s going to be lost forever.”
The young performers say while they have a lot of fun playing the drum, they understand its significance.
“Kids need to learn,” 15-year-old drummer Christopher Reid. “They need to learn the language and such.”
“It’s important because I’m in the Kitch-iti-kipi Tribe and I want to learn more about my culture,” added 12-year-old Kayden Siewert.
The event begins at 6:00 p.m. on June 9 with the Sault Tribe Traditional Medicine Talking Circle. The rest of the activities will take place on Saturday, June 10, beginning with the water ceremony at 9:00 a.m. The feast will start at 4:00 p.m.
The pow wow is located behind the Manistique Tribal Community Center at 5698W US Highway 2, next to the Kewadin Casino. For more information on the Niiwin Noodin Pow Wow, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.