The 13 Moons Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Extension program in Minnesota is launching its first powwow this month as the tribe renews its commitment to its community and environment.
The traditional powwow called Gichi Manidoo Giizis, meaning Great Spirit moon or start of the winter moon, will be held Saturday, January 12, at the Otter Creek Event Center of the Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton, MN.
“This is the first time we are having a powwow,” said Nikki Crowe, 13 Moons Program Coordinator of the Fond du Lac Band Tribal Extension Program.
“Our mission is to connect the Fond du Lac Band and surrounding communities to their natural resources and traditional Ojibwe practices using social networking through media, workshops, and local events,” she said.
"There are several different environmental programs benefiting reservations, such as one inhabited by members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe," said Crowe. She also cited programs to take care of water, land, and air.
“We are always hoping for sustainability of natural resources,” said Crowe, citing that bad weather in the past year resulted in flooding the reservation’s rice lakes and negatively impacting rice production.
She said the powwow could hopefully educate visitors on how to get access to local food. “How can we have access to programs that help with gardening and farming?” she said.
Already, the 13 Moons, a program run by the tribe through a grant funded by the US Department of Agriculture, has been holding educational workshops on gardening, farming, canning, traditional plants, among others.
The powwow is made possible by the sponsorship of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
Community issues are also in the forefront at the powwow. Crowe cited rising incidents of gang activities, violence, and prescription drugs. “The powwow,” Crowe said, “takes off by saying in order to take care of our land we also have to take care of our community.”
Head dancers Vanessa Northrup and Tony Fish (Courtesy: Rochelle Diver)
She said the powwow will have info booths and displays of tribal, state and federal programs—all involved in taking care of land and community.
Three different colleges will be represented at the powwow, as well as other organizations that are involved in educating the public about health, nutrition and cancer awareness.
MC Murphy Thomas, from the Red Lake Nation, MN, will keep the issue of land and community alive during the free admission powwow. The door opens at 11 a.m., with the grand entry at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The participants include the Fond du Lac Band Veterans Honor Guard and other Fond du Lac locals including Jaimie Petite, arena director, Ma’iin’gan, host drum and Cedar Creek Singers, co-host drum. Vanessa Northrup, also from Fond du Lac and Tony Fish, a Menominee who lives in the area, are the head dancers.
Crowe expects 10 to 12 drums participating at the powwow and several types of dances performed to entertain a crowd of expected at about 800 to 1,000. The dances include traditional, fancy, jingle dress, tiny tots, potato, grass, blanket and intertribal.
Also featured at the powwow are a hand drum contest, Mocassin game, Native Crafts displays, and 50/50 raffle. About 15 vendors will participate, selling Native jewelry, regalia, natural products for skin care, blankets, headband, t-shirts, and dream catchers.
Crowe said guests, participants, and vendors are coming from all over Minnesota and from South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Canada, Michigan, Nebraska, Chicago, and Arizona.
“I would like to share with powwow visitors the availability of programs that assist in taking care of the land and community—not only for tribal members—but for the state and federal program visitors to learn from the Fond du Lac community and what we do to take care of the land and each other and to also share in a tradition of drum and dance they may not normally be part of,” she said.