With fall weather and some chilly rain, the 24th annual Fire Keeper Meno Keno Ma Ge Wen Powwow was still in full force on August 26 & 27, 2017, in Carter, Wis.
The powwow committee did a great job this year in making sure things ran smoothly and efficiently. Turnout this year was great, despite what Mother Nature decided to bring in the weather department.
Friday night was the princess competition. There were five ladies competing for Junior Princess with four competing for Senior Princess. Ruth Pemma said, “I believe this is the most we have ever had compete for the crowns.” These ladies had to go through an interview process with a panel of judges, and they also had to show their skills in their dance routine. Choosing the winner was no easy task for the judges as everyone who competed did a fantastic job in representing her Potawatomi heritage. (Winners are shown in photos on page 6.)
On Saturday, grand entry started a bit behind schedule, but there were no worries at all since everyone always just enjoys their time with one another and having that bit of extra time to add the finishing touches to the dancer’s regalia is always okay. Following dinner, the evening Grand Entry was then held at 7pm.
Master of ceremonies this year was Dylan Prescott, who always keeps things rolling with his knowledge of powwows. He spends time between dances informing newcomers of the reasons behind certain aspects of the dances and the powwow traditions and he keeps everyone on their toes with his jokes and sense of humor. Arena director was Darrell Frank, who, along with Prescott, kept things moving and organized throughout the weekend.
The drums this year were phenomenal! The drum is definitely the heartbeat of the powwow and keeps the dancers literally on their toes to keep that energy going. Host drum this year was Bear Creek with co-host being local boys, Fire Nation. Invited drums were Pipestone, Big Soldier Creek, Wolf River and Wigwam Nation.
One can’t have a powwow without head dancers to help lead the way for the other dancers in the arena. Head dancers fill a very important role in the powwow because they are the leaders of certain dances. If any other dancer has a problem or question, they are the ones to ask. Head female dancer was Karen Wahwasuck and head male dancer was Dan “Kuno” Prescott. There was also a Head Veteran dancer, Paul Cloud.
Specials for this year’s powwow from the committee were: Singers Roll Call Special, Chicken Dance Special, Men’s Woodland Special and Audience Participation Special. There was a Pemma Family Special: a Men’s Grass dance 15+ with amazing payouts. There was also an Outgoing Princess Special for Alexandria Decorah and a Head Female/Male Dance Special.
On Sunday, grand entry was at noon and the powwow went until the evening. A breakfast was served this day along with a light evening meal before everyone had to hit the trail home. Speaking of meals served, the powwow committee wants to make sure a chi migwetch goes out to Richard Oshkeshequoam and his family – Gwen, Rose, Leon and Savannah – for preparing and cooking these meals to feed this large amount of people. It is always nice having someone prepare such an amount of food and having it taste great at the same time makes it an even more special treat.
This year’s powwow was a great success both with attendance and the fact that it brought families and friends together as many powwows do. It is always a great time laughing, smiling and conversing with everyone attending and catching up on each one’s busy lives. Watching the little ones grow up through the years is also a treat for many, and it serves to show everyone what the future holds for the powwow circuit. Visiting the vendors and eating the traditional powwow food is always a highlight, too! Despite the rain, the enthusiasm and spirit of the dancers and all attendees were definitely not dampened.