Every year the Miami people invite their family and friends to come together to honor, strengthen and share traditions in Columbia City, Indiana.
This year, August 10-12, the 17th annual traditional pow wow hosted by the Miamis and held at Morsches Park, honored their ancestors with the gathering theme of “We dance With Our Ancestors,” or “Weecikaamankwi Weentaapiikasiyankwi.”
“It was a big homecoming. Our families from Canada, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky came. Sometimes we ran into them in other pow wow but it is nice when they get to Columbus,” said Pat Smith, executive director of the pow wow committee.
“We chose this theme because we dance to honor our ancestors and the Native American way. We are remembering our ancestors as we’re dancing,” she said.
“Every pow wow is a special event and this one is no exception. The Mihsihkinaahkwa Pow Wow is unique because it creates a special occasion for the Native Americans to come together, here in Whitley County, to honor, strengthen and share traditions—with one another, and with the general public,” said the Miami People on their website.
“This location in Whitley County is an appropriate setting for this event, for here in Miami territory was the birthplace of Mihsihkinaahkwa, or Little Turtle, the great Miami Chief,” they said.
Smith said everything went well during the weekend, with the weather sunny, in the 70s. “There were a few clouds. We had a great attendance,” she said, estimating a crowd of 3,000.
It was a very friendly and entertaining pow wow, she said. A concert on opening night featured young Miamis—Adam Strack and Mike Mowery. Smith said there was guitar and singing entertainment, which was enjoyed by senior and young citizens alike.
New to the schedule this year was the presentation and stories told by Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation, a not-for-profit service, which returns and releases sick and injured birds to the wild.
“It was excellent as Holly Meyers from the Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation told stories about birds, appropriate for children. But adults liked it too,” Smith said.
And back this year was the 5K Fun Run. Started in 2003, it was a way for the Miamis to return to the healthy tradition of years past.
Other activities at the pow wow include drumming, flute playing by Bud Eagle Wolf, dancing, scholarship auction at the Elders Tent, Living Native History demonstrations and Grand Entry. About 32 vendors were at the park with Native American crafts, products and food.
Spectators were treated to several types of dances, such as, Intertribal, Two Step, Jingle Dress, Women’s Traditional, Women’s Fancy Shawl, Men’s Grass, Men’s Traditional and Men’s Fancy.
On Sunday, at the close of the gathering, a traditional presentation of gifts to elders, dignitaries and participants was held.
“A pow wow gives us an avenue by which we can honor our women, elders and warriors, give gifts and recognition to those deserving, sing honor songs, ask questions of the elders, teach by example, dance in the sacred circle and be healed,” said the Miamis.
The performers were Medicine Woman Singers, host drum; Blue Heron Singers and The Brown Hawk Singers, invited drums; Dan Bissel, head veteran dancer; Tyq Bush, emcee; Jerry Pigeon, arena director; Tim Samaniego, head man dancer; Haley Strauss, head lady dancer; Landon Lawhead, jr. head man dancer; and Gloria Tippman, jr. head lady dancer.