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Published: Sunday, 10/21/2007

Annual pow wow preserves heritage with dance, delight

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Nesyre Plain takes a close look at the gear of Richard Snake, of Alanson, Mich. The gathering, which includes several tribal nations and ends today, is at Maumee High School. Nesyre Plain takes a close look at the gear of Richard Snake, of Alanson, Mich. The gathering, which includes several tribal nations and ends today, is at Maumee High School.
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Waving a turkey feather, Nesyre Plain reached up to the elder's hand.

"Let's dance again," the 3-year-old said, his feet already taking flight at the sound of the drum beats during the 20th Annual Traditional Pow Wow Honoring the Elders yesterday at Maumee High School.

The event, which continues today, was organized by Kim Kennedy, daughter of Joyce "Snowfeather" Mahaney, who founded the American Indian Intertribal Association in 1988.

Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener paid tribute to Ms. Mahaney, who died last year, as he welcomed the pow wow to the city yesterday afternoon.

He said he hopes the American Indian Intertribal Association returns to hold its pow wow every year in Maumee. The pow wow formerly was held at Summit Hall in Point Place.

He noted that Ms. Mahaney played a key role during a presentation in Anaheim, Calif., last year which helped earn Maumee an All-America City award.

Emcee LeRoy Malaterre estimates 3,000 people will visit the gathering in Maumee. Emcee LeRoy Malaterre estimates 3,000 people will visit the gathering in Maumee.
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Two weeks after the city found out it had won, Mayor Wagener learned that Ms. Mahaney had passed away.

Her daughter has continued the tradition of the annual pow wow.

"This 20th pow wow is important to us," said Mrs. Kennedy, of West Toledo. "We gather together and share our culture and raise cultural awareness with the community about us as the first people, an almost forgotten race."

Pow wows provide people with a chance to see the "dances we do, the regalia we wear. All of this has been passed down from generation to generation for as many years as can be remembered," she said.

Outfi ts with intricate detail are in abundance. This shows details of one belonging to LeRoy Malaterre of Lebanon, Ind. Outfi ts with intricate detail are in abundance. This shows details of one belonging to LeRoy Malaterre of Lebanon, Ind.
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Indians from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ontario, Canada, are participating in the pow wow, which continues today. They represent many tribal nations including Ottawa, Cherokee, Apache, Omaha, Mohawk, Seneca, Miami, Lakota, and Navajo.

LeRoy Malaterre of Lebanon, Ind., estimated about 3,000 people will attend the two-day event, some of them coming just out of curiosity.

"We see the pow wow as an opportunity for people to learn more about our heritage," he said.

Shane Norris of Newark, Ohio, left, leads a line of dancers. Shane Norris of Newark, Ohio, left, leads a line of dancers.
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"What is important is the unity here. We honor each other. The public honors us by coming, and we honor them by welcoming them to our Native American heritage."

The pow wow, he said, has historical, spiritual, and social value to Native Americans, and the event honors Mother Earth.

The drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth, Mrs. Kennedy said, and part of the presentation of the dancers is to show respect as they "walk gently on Mother Earth."

Angelea Boyak, who will be 2 years old in three weeks, bobbed her head up and down to the drum beat as she and her mother, Andrea Boyak, watched the dancers while several members of the Plain family of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ont., played the drum for intertribal and exhibition dancing.

Wisdom of the elders is passed to the children during pow wows, said Mrs. Boyak, of East Toledo.

"Children learn to respect other cultures and learn how to respect and take care of the Earth," she said.

Eileen Rank of Temperance, Mich., came to the pow wow at the suggestion of her friend, Gwen Heller, of Ottawa Lake, Mich.

Both women said they enjoyed watching the dancers, but particularly liked learning about the Native American heritage.

"It is sad. Generations of people today are not keeping up with their heritage like Native Americans do," Mrs. Rank said.

In addition to dancing and singing, the pow wow features traditional foods and vendors selling Native American art and jewelry.

The event is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Maumee High School, 1147 Saco St., with the grand entry slated for 1 p.m.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com or

419-724-6006.



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