DOWAGIAC, MICH. — The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi invites the public to its 28th Annual Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa Pow Wow, the annual celebration of traditional singing, dancing, and culture, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The Pokagon Band’s pow wow arena is located on its Rodgers Lake campus at 58620 Sink Road, Dowagiac, Mich. Parking and admission are free.
Kee-boon-mein-kaa in the Potawatomi language refers to the end of the huckleberry harvest, a traditional time of celebration for the Potawatomi people. The pow wow draws dancers and drummers from the Great Lakes and beyond to compete for prize money in several categories.
Vendors will also be selling native artwork, jewelry, crafts, and goods, as well as traditional food. Presentations will be given throughout the weekend on such topics as black ash basket making, bead work and shawl making. Billy Mills, a Lakota runner who won the Olympic gold medal in the 10K in 1964 and is still the only American to ever win gold in that event, will be a special guest of the Pokagon Band at the pow wow.
To kick off the weekend, a group of Pokagon Band women will participate in the sixth annual Women’s Water Walk Friday, Aug. 30. Protecting the water is a traditional responsibility for women in Native American cultures. Following a sunrise ceremony, women and their supporters will walk 15 miles to the tribal campus at Rodgers Lake. This ceremony and act of walking honors and prays for the waters of the Pokagon Band homelands, and passes on these teachings to others.
The grand entries for the pow wow, which are the formal start of the dancing and songs, are at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday. On both mornings the vendors and cultural presenters will set up before the dancing starts; the gates to the pow wow grounds open at 10 a.m.