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Published: Thursday, 3/13/2003

New group to promote Native Americans

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Black Swamp Intertribal Foundation is a new organization formed to promote Native American history and culture.

Group members plan to become involved in a variety of events and activities, including an outdoor powwow in Buttonwood Park along the Maumee River in the fall.

“This is something that quite a few people have been talking about for quite a while,” said Diane Bishop of Perryburg, one of the organizers of the intertribal foundation. “We thought there could be some additional educational and historical information about this area provided to the public. We hope to grow and do a lot of neat things in northwest Ohio.”

The group plans to assist the efforts of Outreach To Native Americans, a volunteer organization based in McComb, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada, Ms. Bishop said. Its goal is to help Native Americans by providing clothing, food, and household items as needed.

“We intend to help promote other groups,” she said. “We all can learn from each other.”

A primary goal, Ms. Bishop said, is to raise public awareness about Native Americans who live in this area. “A lot of people do not know they are out there,” she said. “With our intertribal foundation, we can help get information out on everyone and find a way to come together,” Ms. Bishop said.

According to 2000 census figures, there were 1,179 natives (American Indian and Alaska native) in Lucas County and 274 in Wood County.

Foundation members include some Native Americans, she said, but it is a mix of Native Americans and non-Native Americans, mostly from Wood and Lucas counties. “I think it is time people come together and really work to further the history of this area,” she said. “That's what intertribal is all about.”

Ms. Bishop's group is not the only Native American organization in the Toledo area. Joyce Mahaney, a Chippewa, is president and founder of the American Indian Intertribal Association, based in Toledo.

Ms. Mahaney's group formed in 1988 and has members from a wide area, including southeast Michigan, northern Ohio, and Canada, she said. The association holds monthly board meetings and conducts a variety of events throughout the year, including an annual powwow.

The Black Swamp Intertribal Foundation's first big event will be a powwow Oct. 4 and 5 at Buttonwood Park on Hull Prairie Road near Perrysburg. The powwow also is sponsored by the Perrysburg Ohio Bicentennial Committee and the Wood County Park District. Ms. Bishop, who is chairman of the event, has lined up a head drum and guest drum. Head drum is SouthEastern WaterSpider from the Toledo area.

Education will be the focus of the powwow, billed as a Woodland Indian Celebration. “We're going to have different speakers and demonstrations,” she said. “We want to familiarize people with the Native American heritage.”

The foundation plans to become a non-profit organization, and members will apply for grants and will conduct fund-raising, she said.

Jamie Oxendine, a member of SouthEastern WaterSpider, does not belong to the foundation, but he's serving as an adviser, and he's assisting the powwow committee.

People typically think about Native Americans living in upper Michigan and states with reservations, not in the Toledo area, he said. “We're still a minority, about 2 million of us” in the United States, he said, but “people need to know we are here.”



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