4th Annual Native American Gathering in Newaygo
By Sally Wagoner
The 4th Annual Native American Gathering will be held Saturday, September 21 from 11a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, September 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Brooks Park in downtown Newaygo. This family friendly event is free and open to the public.
“Everyone is welcome to share in Native Indigenous music, dance, food and culture,” said Laci Reagan of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe, one of the coordinators of the event. “There will be demonstrations of moccasin making, beading and carving, among other arts and crafts.”
“This Gathering is a remembering. It focuses on teaching and sharing our history and culture with others,” states Larry Gouine. “That is why we have speakers on both days as a main focus of the event.”
Speakers will talk on topics related to Native American issues. Among the presenters will be LJ Denemy and Sarah Jo, both Water Protectors who hold vigil in support of decommissioning the Line 5 Enbridge Pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits; Punkin Shananaquet of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) who will talk about Native heirloom seeds; and Jennifer McLeod of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe on Native Sovereignty and Unity. Local Native Circle member Jade Green will talk about current issues facing Native youth. Other speakers will touch upon child-rearing with traditional cradleboards and breastfeeding; and healing the body, mind and spirit.
“Traditional Foods, Our Most Intimate Connection with the Rest of Creation” will be presented by local Native Circle member Marsha Reeves. “We will look at the way people in this area have grown, gathered and prepared foods that have sustained folks here for many hundreds of years,” states Ms. Reeves. “Participants will get a chance to sample some traditionally raised and prepared foods. You’ve never really tasted corn until you’ve tasted a heritage corn pudding prepared in the old fashioned way.”
In addition to speakers, there will be traders, artisans, food and a silent auction of donated items, many of which are handcrafted.
The Woodland Boyz, a multi-tribal Drum hailing from this region, will be the Host Drum. Larry Plamondon will be Emcee of the day, and Mike Loonsfoot will be the Peacekeeper and Arena Director.
“Even though this is not a Powwow, you can’t have a Native Gathering without Drum and dancers – it is who we are,” states Rhonda Loonsfoot, who is of the Dine (Navajo) & Pueblo Tribes. “Everything about the Drum and Dance is about traditions. The songs and the regalia that is worn have often been passed down from generation to generation. They tell what tribes and families we are from. They are a link to our ancestors, and we are connected to them through the songs, the dances and the regalia. It is a special time, and that is why the dance arena is smudged with sacred plants as a blessing before we begin.”
“We welcome all people and all nations into the Dance Circle during an Inter-Tribal Dance. This is our tradition as well. We want them to feel the heartbeat of the Drum and experience the coming together of all people,” added Ms. Loonsfoot.
“We wish to thank the Fremont Area Community Foundation, local businesses and the Newaygo County Historic and Cultural Museum who support this Gathering and other Native Circle events throughout the coming year,” adds Larry Gouine, Chair of the Native Circle of Newaygo County. “This is how a people come together to honor and respect the diversity among all of our Newaygo County community members.”
The Native American Gathering is the major annual event by the Native Circle of Newaygo County (NCNC), a 501c3 non-profit organization. NCNC’s mission is in part to share Native Indigenous cultures with all people and to tell the history of Native Americans from their own experiences and perspectives. NCNC also offers other events such as Indigenous film viewing and cultural teachings throughout the year.
“We hope everyone will come out to the Gathering and enjoy the cultures of our People,” added David Moore, event coordinator and Vice Chair of the Native Circle. “It will be an experience you won’t forget!”
For information about the Gathering or the Native Circle of Newaygo County please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call NCNC at 231.709.9005.