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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 23, 2002 - Issue 55


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MSU Powwow Highlights Fun, Indian Culture and Tradition

Map of Recognized Tribes in Michigan
EAST LANSING, MI - They were decorated in feathers, beads and brightly colored ribbons, moving to the pounding drums and echoing chants.

They traveled from across the country to celebrate their traditions, visit with friends and just have fun.

"I'm just here to dance," said Lisa Fisher, of Grand Rapids.

Nearly 2,000 people filled Michigan State University's Pavilion on Saturday for the 19th annual Pow Wow of Love. The two-day event concludes today.

MSU's North American Indian Student Organization holds the annual event to celebrate traditions and educate others about their culture.

"There's a lot of things that people don't know about Indian culture, things we don't learn," said Richard Shafer, co-chairman of the event and an MSU senior from Grand Rapids.

The weekend celebration is expected to draw more than 3,000 people from across the United States and Canada. Proceeds go toward scholarships and loans for Native American students.

The modern powwow, prominent in Great Lakes Indian communities, comes from the traditional seasonal gatherings nearly every tribe held. Most are social events.

"A powwow is a time to share with each other and get to know each other," Shafer said.

Spectators circled the arena where dancers, dressed in elaborate native costumes called regalia, participated in a variety of dance styles to the beat of the drums.

Each song told a story, while men, women and children danced on the red carpet in the center of the pavilion.

"This is all to honor nature and all that our creator gave us," said Eva Kennedy, of Dearborn Heights. "It's a recognition and appreciation for one another."

Kennedy has been coming to the MSU powwow since it began. Her daughter, who graduated from MSU, was one of the first student organizers of the event, and Kennedy now brings her eight grandchildren along.

"I just come to visit with people, have some fry bread and to get a little exercise," she said.

The event also includes rows of vendors selling Native American art, crafts, jewelry, clothing and food.

Mike Keahna traveled from Tama, Iowa, to attend. A member of the Meskwaki tribe, he goes to three or four powwows a year. This is his first trip to Michigan.

"This is like a little vacation for me, to get away from home and meet other Indian people," he said.

Wayne Silas Jr., lead singer of Tha Tribe, has been singing since he was a child.

"I learned to sing and dance before I learned to walk and talk," said Silas, of Lawrence, Kan.

Tha Tribe, one of the drum groups at the powwow, was recording an album for Canyon Records, which produces traditional and contemporary Native American music.

"Powwow music is probably the closest thing to pop music in the Native American culture," said Stephen Butler, Canyon production director. "There's always new songs and new groups coming out, and people want to hear the latest stuff."

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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