Public display and traditional practice mingle in this advertisement for the "Twentieth Annual Mesquakie Indian Pow Wow" published in the Tama News-Herald, Iowa. Courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society, 43219-WHi(X3) 4985.
A Ho-Chunk drum performs for women dancers at the Labor Day Powwow in Black River Falls. Wisconsin, 1994. Photo by Lewis Koch.
My grandpa was a real, I guess he’d be kind of a natural comedian today. The thing that I remember about him was, whenever you were running around and you heard all these people laughing, it would be him. He was always making somebody laugh all the time. Saying things, doing things....They used to sponsor a powwow at their place every year. My grandpa, he used to have this pipe. It had these nipples on the end and it had two holes in them. He’d put rags in them, and he’d put kerosene on that [and light it]. The pipe must’ve been maybe two, three feet long. He used to spin that baton. He was good at it. Turn all the lights off, during the powwow.
Ken Funmaker, Sr., Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Elena Greendeer instructs her daughter, Verna, on the making of a ribbon skirt in the Greendeer home. Oneida, Wisconsin, 1994. Photo by Lewis Koch.
In my teenage years, about 14-15 years old, I used to dance at the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial—which was another tourist income industry—where most of the Winnebago performed every night during the summer. And I became one of the performers, and I also desired more varieties of dress to wear. When you have to perform in front of large crowds, it becomes almost a necessity....The only way to get it is to make it, because everyone at the time had the same feeling. It’s like the teenagers of today. They trade clothes. But with our dance dress, we don’t trade. That’s always been understood within the family, because it’s not replaceable....So I learned from watching my mother work, and also some of the other elderly women in dance outfits with appliqué—ribbonwork—skirts and blouses. I learned to make my own, and it wasn’t very long that I had a large variety.
Elena Greendeer, Ho-Chunk Nation, Oneida, Wisconsin
It was either 1952 or 1953 they did that. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but they wanted to put on, pretty much for the tourists and the white people, these Indian dances....The people at Odanah were still knowledgeable at powwows and all that stuff. On the [Escanaba, Michigan] fairgrounds, right about where that old-time sawmill is, there’s a big stand of white pine. That’s where the village was. There was probably maybe ten, twelve wigwams there. They had kind of like a stockade fence all around there. Those wigwams were inside their stockade, kind of like horseshoe-shaped. Then in the center they had the powwows. All the dancers and all those people they had were from Odanah, Wisconsin....Daily they put on powwows for the tourists to kind of show, in a romantic way, the way the Indian was. It was kind of recreation in a sense. Then the women would do beadwork during the day, people could come there and watch them. I think it went for two years. During the summer. They lived there in the wigwams, and I went over there and I stayed there.
Earl Nyholm, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Ojibwa, Crystal Falls, Michigan
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