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White Earth Pow Wow celebrates heritage, people

The 145th anniversary of the white earth Pow Wow is June 14-16 at the White Earth Pow Wow grounds. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

The White Earth Reservation’s annual Celebration and Pow Wow, one of the longest running traditions in the area, is reaching its 145th anniversary this year. The event will be held June 14-16 on the reservation grounds and is open to the community.

According to Dennis Hisgun, a coordinator for the event, the powwow commemorates White Earth Reservation’s treaty day on June 14, 145 years ago.

“The main purpose of the powwow is an annual gathering for tribal members. Families get together from all over the United States and return (to White Earth) on an annual basis,” Hisgun said.

Though the powwow is a celebration of the White Earth Reservation’s people and heritage, Hisgun said “we want to make it known that everyone is invited. It’s an open event — not just for the native people — for everyone.”

The powwow will officially begin with a blessing of the White Earth grounds on Thursday, June 13 at 11 am, followed by a feast at noon.

While each day of the powwow will be filled with events, “the best time for spectators is Saturday,” Hisgun said. “There are the most dancers, and it’s the highlight.” He estimates that between 2,500 and 3,000 people attended Saturday last year.

There is no admission fee to enter, and parking is free as well. A community feast is held both Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., which is also free of charge.

The flag raising will be conducted Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. Grand Entries are Friday at 7 pm, as well as both Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm and 7 pm. “All dancers in full regalia dance in” Hisgun said. “White Earth Color Guard vets lead them in and bring in all of the flags. All branches of the armed forces are represented in the Grand Entry.”

Around 1,000 dancers and 28 drum groups performed last year. This year, the co-host drums are Rock Hill North from Battleford, Saskatchewan and Riverside Dakota from Sioux Valley, Canada. Invited drums are Young Buffalo Horse, Wisconsin Dells, Eagles Nest, Smokey hill, Prairie Thunder, White Earth Boys, and Eagle Spirit.

Mickey Hodges of the White Earth Nation and Murphy Thomas of the Red Lake Nation will share Master of Ceremonies duties.

A 5K run and walk benefiting the White Earth Diabetes Project will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday. The Diabetes Project supports families affected by the disease, and provides education and health information about prevention and treatment.

Participants will meet behind the emcee stand. For more information about this event contact Shane Plumer at 218-573-4112.

The Junior and Senior Princess and Brave contests will also be held, and are open to enrolled members and descendants that live within a 25 mile radius of the reservation boundaries.

Age categories are 8-12 in the junior division and 13-17 in the senior group.

There will also be food vendors and crafts for sale at the event.

The White Earth powwow offers the opportunity for all members of the community to join in the celebration of the land and its people, and unites both participant and spectator in an enjoyable and culturally enriching experience.

For more information, contact Dennis Hisgun at 218-902-0206, or the White Earth Reservation office at 800-950-3248.

Article written by Libby Larson of Detroit Lakes Newspapers