Powwow, Rendezvous Celebrates Cultures
A mingling of cultures was at the forefront of the third annual Rendezvous at the Straits powwow and historical encampment at Father Marquette National Memorial Friday, August 28, through Sunday, August 30. Steady rain all day Saturday kept moccasins and tennis shoes wet.
"Native Americans and white men were getting together right here in the Great Lakes 300 years ago," said Ervin Lantzer of Grand Rapids, who traces his heritage to French- Indian voyageurs, a role he was reenacting Saturday. Reliving the history is important, Mr. Lantzer said, as a way to preserve it for future generations.
"This is active, real history," he said. "If there isn't something like this, it's lost."
The historic encampment took place just down the hill from the powwow grounds at the Father Marquette National Memorial. Traditional tents, canoes, and other tools of the voyageur trade were used to make camp by groups of living historians, possibly close to where voyageurs made their winter camps in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
"It's good to see it [the powwow] come back here," Mr. Yarnell said. "Our ancestors have been here thousands of years, at least 3,500 years. It's a sacred place."
Mr. Yarnell, a veteran of the Korean War, has served as the powwow's chief veteran for all three years it has been held. He led all the veterans, each holding a flag symbolizing where they served or what band they represent, into the powwow circle during the ceremonial Grand Entry at 1 p.m. Saturday.
He reminisced about the first year this powwow was held in 2007, when an eagle flew over the circle just as Grand Entry began, taken by many present as a sign they were doing the right thing in setting up the event.
He spoke highly of both the location and the people who made the powwow happen, saying he always has a good time at the gathering.
"That's what it's all about - socializing and having fun," Mr. Yarnell said. "It's an honor to be asked to lead the people."
The pow-wow was marked by a large circle in the center of the arena, where drummers and dancers gathered to "pray with their feet," as Rendezvous coordinator Darryl Brown put it. Outside this circle, people gathered to watch and take part in the dancing, and just beyond, vendors selling and trading traditional and contemporary goods created the outside circle.
Brenda Adair Taylor and her husband, Phil, said the weather Saturday reminded them of their home in Washington. Mrs. Adair Taylor said she returns to the Straits area nearly every year as a sort of homecoming, since her family and heritage are here.
"Now I know so much more about the people and my ancestors from here," she said. She has been researching family genealogy in the area, and finally received her Indian name on this trip from a medicine man she met at the Fort de Buade museum in St. Ignace. Her new name, Waabooz, means rabbit in the Ojibwa language.
The powwow, she said, is "a wonderful time for people to get together, pray, and share joys and grief."
As the rich smells of cedar, sage, and fry bread mingled to create an intoxicating aroma, so, too, did many cultures mingle, echoing the rendezvous of European traders and the native people here so many years ago.