Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in South Dakota: Rapid City Powwow

October 8th, 2017

Colorful finery, elaborate feather work and intricate beadwork describe the visual atmosphere of a powwow. Spirited drumming and singing filled the air as dancers complete their fancy footwork. The Black Hills Powwow has become one of the premier American Indian cultural events in the United States and features competitions in categories such as traditional, fancy and jingle-dress dancing. 

Dances are either for men or women, with dancers moving in a clockwise direction which represents the circle of unity and the never-ending cycle of life. Singers are usually between the audience and the dance arena. Powwow singers and drummers play a very important part of the celebration, providing rhythm for the dancers. They sing many types of songs, including honor and family, war and conquest, songs of joy, encouragement, humor and mourning. Attire worn by a dancer is called regalia and often takes years to create and may include gifts which have deep meaning.

During this preeminent three-day event spectators can enjoy a fine arts show, He Sapa Win pageant, wellness symposium for youth, and tournaments for hand games, softball, golf, and archery.

Catch the spirit at the many celebrations across your state.

Sunday in Michigan

August 23rd, 2015

Geometry is fun! If you like playing with objects, like drawing or taking daytrips, then geometry is for you. To prove my point I set out on a scalene triangle experience. What? You don’t remember your triangles? A scalene triangle is a triangle with no equal sides or angles while still being a triangle. (i.e. A) Bessemer -> Odanah 35 miles B) Odanah -> Minocqua 84 miles C)  Minocqua -> Bessemer 56 miles)

Side A of my triangle was from Bessemer to Odanah with a quick stop at the Bad River Casino to speak with Phyllis before heading to the Powwow. I first met Phyllis last weekend when I stopped at the casino for breakfast. She was kind enough to walk me through the hallways to the restaurant. During those 10 minutes she told me about her life growing up on the reservation, having children and raising her granddaughter. About then we arrived to a hallways lines with photos of tribe members that have joined the US Armed Forces. Including her precious Marine granddaughter. Phyllis, like another grandmother I know that shares the name, nearly burst with pride when speaking about her granddaughter. A grandparent’s love is universal. A bond like no other, is the unconditional love grandparents have for the grandchildren. After taking a photo of her with her granddaughter’s, she pointed me in the direction of the Powwow.

Bad River Casino Phyllis

Powwows are the Native American people’s way of meeting together to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships, and making new ones. This is a national method they use to renew their Native American culture and preserve their rich heritage. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend Powwows of various tribes from North Dakota to Maine.

Every powwow begins with the Grand Entry of all the people entering the grounds as everyone is asked to stand as the flags are brought into the arena. Manomin or, wild rice, is an integral part of Ojibwe history and the Bad River Powwow celebrates the growth and harvest of this natural staple with traditional dancing, singing, canoe races, marathons, and plenty of fun and food for the entire family. I missed the canoe races, however I enjoyed browsing the craft booths and seeing the expert beadwork. Afterwards I watched the Grand Entry while sampling the traditional fry bread.

Bad River Pow Wow 1 Bad River Pow Wow 2 Bad River Pow Wow 3 Bad River Pow Wow 4 Bad River Pow Wow Regalia Bad River Pow Wow Shawl Dance

Fry bread appears to be nothing more than fried dough made from white flour, processed sugar and lard. Like an unsweetened funnel cake, only thicker and full of air bubbles, it’s revered as a symbol of Native pride and unity. I’ve eaten fry bread at other Pow Wows, but I’ve never seen fry bread tacos or fry bread hamburgers. Covered with powdered sugar, their fry bread was better than any overpriced funnel cake! (www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/frybread-79191/?no-ist)

Bad River Pow Wow Fry Bread

Side B of the triangle was from Odanah to Minocqua’s Wildwod Wildlife Park. The park began more than 50 years ago when Jim Peck purchased the land with the vision of creating a place where his love of animals could be shared with the public. An injured whitetail fawn became Jim’s first resident. Jim’s love of animals became known as he opened his house to care for orphaned and injured animals including calves, goats, baby chicks and bunnies.

In 1997 the zoo was purchased by the Dozaszek family. They already owned a private game farm in Wisconsin and understood the commitment, daily care and responsibility this park required to continue to stay open to the public. Thanks to the hard work of the entire staff the zoo received the prestigious Zoological Association of America accreditation in 2008. Now there are presentations, classes and wildlife experiences for all ages. I absolutely loved my experience and can’t say enough about this zoo. Wildwood Wildlife Park is in my Top 5 for cleanliness and close interaction with the animals. (www.wildwoodwildlifepark.com)

Wildwood Wildlife Park 2 Wildwood Wildlife Park 4 Wildwood Wildlife Park 5 Wildwood Wildlife Park 6 Wildwood Wildlife Park 7 Wildwood Wildlife Park 9 Wildwood Wildlife Park 10 Wildwood Wildlife Park 13 Wildwood Wildlife Park 15 Wildwood Wildlife Park 19 Wildwood Wildlife Park 22 Wildwood Wildlife Park 23 Wildwood Wildlife Park 26 Wildwood Wildlife Park 27 Wildwood Wildlife Park 30 Wildwood Wildlife Park 31 Wildwood Wildlife Park 32 Wildwood Wildlife Park 34 Wildwood Wildlife Park 35 Wildwood Wildlife Park 36 Wildwood Wildlife Park 37 Wildwood Wildlife Park 38

Last leg and I was homeward bound full of joy and bunny love. What an excellent geometric journey. It was a celebration of life and of all things living!

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.