January 30th, 2014 Last Updated on: January 30th, 2014
This past summer Bob Uhl, who runs the Midwest PowWows blog, attended the Native American Cultural Day at the Wickiup Hill Learning Center in Iowa. He captured some great photos from the event. Let's take a look at how his day went.
Linn County Conservation Commission & the Wickiup Learning Center held its 3rd annual Native American Cultural Day on Saturday August 24th at the Wickiup Learning Center, North of Cedar Rapids near Toddville, Iowa. Running an event & coordinating so things run smooth can sometimes be an arduous task, but director Gail Barels & a long list of volunteers & supporters did an excellent job at hosting the event.
The MC for this event was Jerome KillsSmall Lakota elder (pictured top 2nd from left), NAMA Nominees Lakota Drum Group Cedar River Singers, Oglala Nation grass dancer Stew Huntley & traditional dancer elder Preston Duncan from the Meskwaki Nation. The purpose of the event was to educate everyone on Native American Cultures & Traditions. Cedar River Singers started off with the Traditional Flag Song & Veterans Song.
The heartbeat of Mother Earth is found in the drumming of every native nation at gatherings or powwows. Many of these groups sing & drum for hours at a time & I have the utmost respect for their drive in keeping these events constantly in forward motion. Our families have done several powwows together in the Midwest with the Cedar River Singers & I have seen this family grow in many ways & respect what they have done & do for the Native communities.
As the dancers were asked to introduce themselves, this native elder stood picturesque with his classic native features associated with the American indigenous population in his traditional regalia. “I am Preston Duncan from the Meskwaki Nation. Many of you know us as the Sac & Fox.”
Behind the Wickiup Learning Center lies the ground where his ancestors made their winter camp every year, long ago. Inside the center (pictured below), a replica stands of how these lodges were built for winter camp.
Native traditions & cultures are celebrated in many ways but the one most familiar to the public is the powwow. Every style of dance, grass dance, traditional (men & women’s) & jingle dress, all have meanings. Many of these dances have evolved over time in competition dances but the traditional meaning still exists. MC Jerome KillsSmall, Lakota elder, took spectators on a journey of traditions & culture while dancers, Stew Huntley, grass dancer, Oglala Nation & Preston Duncan, men’s traditional dancer performed their respective dances.
Another aspect of these gatherings is hand drum singing & competitions, which Zack (Cedar River Singers), is performing above.
Bring in Dad & brother & you end up with an awesome trio. Hoka!
At the entrance of the Wickiup Learning Center I found this statement by Aldo Leopold, American author, scientist, ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. But this statement is nothing new to Native Traditions as my elders stated it this way in teaching us; Show me & I will remember, teach me & I will learn, involve me & I will understand. This statement included everything in our lives, a ‘how to’ about every aspect of this earth walk. Honor & respect everyone & everything, especially the environment that gives us life. Centers such as this one, are an abundant wealth of knowledge for the 7th generation to survive & what better way to bring this aspect into awareness then through a joint endeavor by the conservation commissions & the original caretakers of the land, the indigenous population.
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