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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Pow Wow displays traditions at Northern

More than 200 spectators got a taste of Native American culture and cuisine at the 17th annual “Learning to Walk Together” Pow Wow on Saturday. During the event, Native Americans in traditional outfits performed traditional dances. Viewers crowded onto the bleachers to get a better look at the dancing, while nearly as many were in line for Fry Bread at one of the vendor booths.

The all-day event at the Vandement Arena featured elaborately dressed dancers, singers and drummers from several different Native American tribes represented in the Midwest, including Anishinabe, Iroquois and Chippewa.

The Pow Wow is a Native American gathering for celebrating life. Dancing at a Pow Wow is not done for the purpose of entertaining the audience, but for embracing intertribal heritage through each tribe’s dances, which are performed in a sacred dance circle.

For Native American Student Association Chairperson Connie Goudreau, the Pow Wow brings an opportunity to share that heritage with fellow Northern students.

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“The message is kind of fusing the traditions of Native culture,” Goudreau said. “We’re teaching people on campus about Native traditions.”

Japanese exchange student Chihiro Tominaga was in the audience at the Pow Wow, and experienced Native American culture for her first time.

“The dancing was very, very different from ballet or other dances I have seen,” Tominaga said. “There were not many dance moves . but it was beautiful. And when they used their voices to sing, it sounded so strange, but also very beautiful.”

Outfits worn by participants in the Pow Wow were examples of traditional Native American dress, with intricate beading, pieces of bone, feathers, leather and brightly colored fabrics adorning them. Each dancer wore a different style of clothing, depending on what role they played in the dancing and also to which tribe they belong.

Many younger women were “shawl dancers” who wore decorative shawls meant to symbolize the movements of a butterfly, using lots of arm and swaying movements which incorporate the shawl.

The “jingle dress dancers” say a prayer while rolling metal tobacco lids before assembling them as bells onto their dresses, but tobacco lids were not originally what adorned them.

“They are called ‘regalia,'” Goudreau said. “They’re actually made from metal chewing tobacco lids now, but they used to be made of animal teeth. Those dresses are passed down through the family, so there is a lot of tradition behind them.”

Participants were from different experience levels, ranging from Head Veteran dancers all the way down to first time dancing children, and the public were encouraged to join the dancing during intertribal songs. The dancers moved in a circle around the singers and drummers, whose beat is meant to symbolize Mother Earth.

Although most participants came from the Marquette area and did not have to travel far to join in on the Pow Wow, some came from quite a bit farther, Goudreau said.

“They (the dancers) come from all over. Some are students here,” Goudreau said. “Some are elders we’ve contacted. Some of the drummers are from Wisconsin. Mostly they come from around the Great Lakes region.”

Among the students who helped out at the Pow Wow was Craig Meshigaud, a member of the Hannahville Potawatomi tribe and a sophomore media production and new technologies major at Northern.

“I felt like it was good to be part of the Pow Wow by volunteering rather than as a spectator,” Meshigaud said. “In the Native tradition, there is always a sense of giving back, and that’s important.”

While dancing, singing and drums took center stage, food was not left on the back burner. Iroquois Kitchen of Wisconsin sold various Native American foods at the Pow Wow, including traditional Fry Bread and wild rice casserole.

The Pow Wow was sponsored by the Center for Native American Studies and the Native American Student Association.

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