Dwight Peck's personal website
Wisconsin during the Tea Party coup, 2011
More lakeside fun in the Northwoods
The Bear River Pow Wow, Lac du Flambeau
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Lac du Flambeau is a US Indian reservation not far from Kristin's lake in the Northwoods. It's got its casino of course, but along with a lot of tourist "pow wow" shows throughout the summer, the Bear River Pow Wow is not at all touristy and "brings tribes from across the nation to celebrate together". Our good friend Kim's granddaughter Geralynn is dancing this year, so we've all gone out to swell the applause.
Kristin, Elke, and Kim, with grandson Dade (and Emily texting on the cellphone off to the left). The crowds are just drifting in, with camp chairs, fructose drinks, and cartons full of french fries with creamy sauce, etc.
The Lac du Flambeau is a study in paradox (the name is a French explorer's version of the Ojibwe name, the people who fish with lighted torches at night). Its website melds traditional Ojibwe culture with casinos: "Lac du Flambeau is a premiere place for those seeking an exciting cultural and hands-on historical experience. Ojibwe culture is alive and well-respected in this community which has much to offer in the ways of both nightlife and outdoor living. Come to Lac du Flambeau to have a quiet walk in the woods, an exciting game of blackjack at the casino or an authentic cultural experience at the local Ojibwe museum. This is one of the unique places in the world where the balance of natural resources and modern development co-exist to protect future generations."
A quiet walk in the woods, or an exciting game of blackjack -- depends entirely upon your mood!
Ojibwe or Chippewa or whatever, there's a significant, chubby military presence, as we await the commencement of the proceedings.
Some of the players arriving. The dances to take place over the next two days feature groups from all over sort-of-competing but not really, with varying levels of enthusiasm and costumery. But there seemed to be a small platoon of professionals, spry and in the fullest regalia, who accompanied all of the groups throughout the day and made them all look much more authentic, as it were.
The pow wow grounds form a circle, with ample room for parking and fattening food stands just without, but the presenter spoke of "the circle" in spirituals terms -- 'join our circle', 'enter our circle', etc., so maybe it's not just because it's the easiest way to set up the bleachers so everybody can see the show.
A young future warrior is lost.
William keeps staring at the fried food stands instead of the dancing.
The Grand Opening is getting underway. There's that significant military presence.
Military flags, followed by some of the pro dancers
The presenter in the booth, evidently a professional who has done this gig over many years, kept up a steady flow of news and patter that both emphasized the communal and spiritual background to the dances and reminded people to bring back the lawn chairs they'd walked off with.
Pride of place for the military . . . at a small reservation where the US military has rather brutally penned up whatever survivors it left from these cultures. Don't ask me. The lady representing the US Army has on a "jingle dress" that really jingles better than anyone else's jingle dress. What's that about?
The military form up, the pro dancers circle in behind, and we eagerly await the communities' representatives.
The kid's lost again.
The pros bloody well earned their money or free food throughout this afternoon. Done well, these dances are not a walk in the park. If that's the right phrase.
The flags are flapping proudly -- US Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, and maybe Wisconsin, tribal stuff, Audubon Society, etc., but no UN flags.
Another kid's had enough.
They're announcing all the delegations -- "Now a round of applause for Smokeytown!" -- but the circles seemed to be grouped by gender and age, and military affiliation or not.
The Grand Opening has so far danced on beyond any functional purpose and must have some deeper meanings.
The presenter thanks everyone for dancing around in a circle and invites them to clear off now for some more military.
As the presenter invited all "Vets" in the audience to join those on the field, in order to be "commemorated", and all the Vets climbed down onto the field, he filled the time by tackling the tricky question that some people have been asking him (I'll BET they have) of why we're celebrating the US military when they've slaughtered about 95% of the Indian population in the USA.
His smooth answer to that, which he slipped in casually, was that "we're all one nation now, and these are the people who've kept us free" (NOT necessarily the congressmen who got them the casino licenses). He then introduced the Vets from the successive "eras" (Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, EYE-raq, and so on). Not "wars" -- "eras".
That's Geralynn out on the dance floor, just getting warmed up
And now getting into it properly, wearing her "Fancy Shawl" style of dress
Geralynn is clearly a natural, and so is her sister, and her sister's friend.
Round and round the dancers go, as visitors sneak out of the bleachers for some more heaping plates of fried foods and struggle to get back up in the stands without missing more go-rounds than needed.
Geralynn, her sister, and sister's friend on the left
Just in front of Geralynn's sister, the next time round, is a pleasant fellow with a laid-back sort of dance of his own and a Homeland Security T-shirt.
"Homeland Security -- fighting terrorism since 1492"
Pow Wows have plenty of food on offer, and no one need go hungry here.
Craft items are available
There's the Army lady in the delightful "jingle dress". She's made it from spent bullet casings. Now that's art! And that's army!
Our ladies are reconvening to debate our immediate future. As lovely as all the dancing round in a circle certainly is, an hour's about enough of it. At the Highland Games, they usually pause to "toss the caber" -- that really livens a Highland Games up a lot.
Summer in Wisconsin, 2011
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 30 August 2011.