Powwow: Dance, drums, smoke featured at KBIC

BARAGA – Sunny skies and warm temperatures prevailed during the 38th annual Keweenaw Bay Maawanji’iding weekend celebration in Baraga.

Emcees Joey Awonohopay, Menominee, and Pete Gahbow Millacs, Ojibwe, let everyone know what was happening at powwow with plenty of humor, often teasing dancers, drummers and others.

Spiritual advisor Darrell Kingbird led pipe ceremonies and prayed in Ojibwe several times during the three-day event that featured dancers and drummers from near and far.

“Dance around and have a good time,” Kingbird encouraged the crowd.

“I was addressing my elders,” Kingbird said in English after Saturday’s Grand Entry. “We asked our spiritualities to come here at the very beginning with our pipe and our fires. That’s how we begin our day.”

Powwow honored elders Roger R. Duschene and Debbie Parrish, and all the KBIC members who died during the last year.

Before powwow started, the sacred fire was lit and the grounds were blessed. Participants in tribal ceremonies can’t drink alcohol or use drugs for at least three days before they join in, which had Lisa Denomie hoping she wouldn’t have to dance Sunday so she could enjoy a beer Saturday night.

“I like my beer,” she said Saturday after the Grand Entry. Denomie, who is also a water walker, made it clear she loved her people and powwow more, when she danced on Sunday as well.

Local invited drums Woodland, Summercloud and Four Thunders were joined by others from as far away as Saskatchewan.

Veterans were honored as they carried flags around the powwow arena: Joe Dowd (Vietnam) carried the Eagle Staff, Dan Garceau (Army) carried the United States flag, Glen Bressette (Vietnam) carried the POW-MIA flag, Joe Eckerberg (Persian Gulf) carried the tribal flag, Gus Limbo (Korea and Vietnam) carried the Canadian flag, Pete Shelifoe (Korea) carried the Army flag, Stan Spruce (Vietnam and Persian Gulf) carried the Navy flag; George DeCota (Marine Corps) carried the Air Force flag; Eugene “Cowboy” Loonsfoot (Vietnam) carried the Marines flag and Ralph Eckerberg (Vietnam) carried the Coast Guard flag.

Powwow ends with a giveaway showcasing the tribe’s generosity and gratitude, as all participants and others present can choose from a huge pile of gifts. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community President Chris Swartz, powwow committee members and dancers make a circle around the dance area, like a recieving line, to receive thanks and shake hands and thank everyone for coming.