The 40th Annual Stockbridge Munsee Powwow

By Larry P. Madden

mohican tribal symbolThe second weekend of August brought the 40th anniversary of the Mohicans’ Veterans Powwow to the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans Reservation near Bowler, Wisconsin. As always, the event was a mixture of family reunion, celebration of human existence, and a gathering place for good cheer and camaraderie. We Mohicans have endured a lot since non-Natives found their way to our side of Turtle Island and our powwow is a tradition that celebrates who we are in modern America.

We Mohicans started out in New York State along the length and breadths of the Mohiigunnuk River, now commonly called the Hudson River, and we fought alongside the colonists in their struggle for independence during the American Revolution. We lost many of our bravest and strongest warriors alongside the Western heroes celebrated in most textbooks, but when our veterans left General Washington’s command, they returned home to find their dwellings and gardens destroyed and their land being claimed by the very people they fought to help liberate.

Many Mohicans wandered west in hopes of peace and land only to find death at the hands of the frontiersmen, unfettered by any laws. Relocation to Menominee country was another government ploy to infiltrate and occupy what is now Wisconsin and a revolving series of treaties affected and realigned land, which created the present day location of the Mohican Reservation in the southwest corner of Menominee. It’s at this location that Mohican Nation settled her people for the last (knock on wood) time in 1830. This brief yet accurate history may help explain why our powwows honor our veterans, and this year the drums and voices that carried our songs to the ancient ones did so in celebration of the veterans of the Korean War.

The festivities began in the deep woods of the Mohican powwow grounds with the Mohican Tribal Chair Ms. Shannon Holsley welcoming visitors and family alike. From there on out, the emcee, Mr. Mark Demming, in concert with Arena Director Curt Moon, ran a flawless event, filled with humor. Ge Tae Sae, Puzzle Hill, Wolf River Singers, NeeshMakwa, Chief Hill and Medicine Bear Crossing provided solid strong performances all three days and Saturday’s customary feast was as good as a meal could be. From traditional men down to Tiny Tots, dancers were not in short supply and the variety of dancing styles swirled and combined to create a colorful moving beauty of its own making.

Forty years of groundwork led up to another successful and renewing celebration based on the traditional respect for the Warriors. Next year, come visit the revamped and well-kept Mohican powwow grounds and participate in a cultural event with roots that precede, intertwine, and thrive with the country we call America.

Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.