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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 28, 2003 - Issue 90


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Tribal Celebration

by Matt Moline The Capital-Journal
credits: Matt Stamey/The Capital-Journal

Fancy DancersMAYETTA -- When the Potawatomi Indians took up residence on the Great Plains more than 150 years ago, periodic gatherings known as powwows helped promote tribal solidarity in an unfamiliar environment.

On Sunday, the time-honored tradition was renewed once again on the final day of this year's tribal powwow, sponsored by Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

"This is like one big family reunion, and that's what helps develop that community spirit," said tribal council member Jim Potter.

Sunday's activities featured the final competition in four American Indian dancing categories, and drew more than 250 participants from a dozen states.

Sunday's celebration included more than 250 participants from a dozen states.The contestants, who ranged in age from 7 to 70, dressed in authentic American Indian regalia and competed for attractive cash prizes that topped out at $800 in the adult women's fancy dance division.

Dancing events took place at the new spectator arena at Prairie Peoples Park, which has benefited from recent improvements generated by gaming revenues from Harrah's Prairie Band Casino, which is on the Potawatomi Reservation north of Topeka.

The casino, which employs an estimated 1,000 people, also has generated increased demand for housing on the reservation, Potter said.

"It's kind of like the old days, when the tribe used to move from place to place wherever the buffalo were, because that was where your food supply was," he said. "Well, in modern times, the food supply now is no longer buffalo -- it's jobs, so you move wherever the jobs are. But unlike the old days, you can't always take your house with you."

The Potawatomi Nation, which originated as an autonomous tribal unit more than four centuries ago in the Great Lakes region, were forcibly removed by the federal government to the future state of Kansas after 1846.

Although the present Potawatomi reservation took shape in 1867, the tribe's leadership eventually discontinued the annual powwow gatherings, which were revived as an annual event in 1999.

"Tribal gatherings help develop pride in oneself and one's people," Potter said. "And that's something that we may have been somewhat lacking in, because we didn't have the resources to be able to have these events. Now we're once again in a position to help pass along the importance of these reunions to our kids."

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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.  

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