2017-05-25 / Front Page

Drumming, Dancing, Arts To Be Highlights

By Erich T. Doerr

A Native American Festival celebrating the cultural heritage of the area’s first residents will be held at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture in downtown St. Ignace this weekend. The festival will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, from 9 a.m. through to the early afternoon. Native American drumming and dancing will be a highlight, and all of the events are free and open to the public.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our rich Native American culture and its traditions,” Museum Director Shirley Sorrels said. “The native dancers and drummers see this as a great chance to share [their skills] with the community and its visitors.”

The festival is now entering its eighth year, with the event growing larger each time. The fun, all-ages activities will include drumming, singing, dancing, workshops, and foods. Lisa Burnside is the festival coordinator and works with Ms. Sorrels and the Special Events Committee to pull everything together. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Michigan Humanities Council both support the event.

Most of the festival’s events will take place on Saturday, with the morning activities running through about 12:45 p.m. focusing on immersive hands-on activities and workshops, including storytellers and experts who will discuss culture and traditions. Mrs. Burnside will host a workshop on traditional medicine teachings, while Jackie Minton will head up a traditional craft activity for children. Tony Grondin will offer cultural teachings.

A mask-focused clan coloring workshop for adults will be hosted by Lisa Walker and Francie Wyers. The colorings created during the workshop will focus on the clan animals in the Anishinaabe Clan Park on the museum grounds that Ms. Walker illustrated.

Marge Bekins will lead a black ash basket making demonstration workshop. The Ojibwe have used black ash baskets for thousands of years for a wide variety of uses, ranging from drying herbs to storing food, harvesting vegetables, hauling animal pelts, and as an item for trading.

Sally Paquin will host a quill basket demonstration workshop. She has more than 27 years of experience making the quill and birch bark baskets, carrying on the almost lost tradition of quillwork crafts that predates the arrival of Europeans to North America.

The festival’s Grand Entry will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, beginning an afternoon of traditional drumming, singing, and dancing. The festival will include both American and Canadian native performers; a number of dancers and drummers will be coming from Ontario to be a part of the event.

“This (festival) is always a wonderful event,” Ms. Sorrels said. “Both the visitors and the participants love it.”

Head Veterans Butch Van Ellen and Gene Reid will lead the Grand Entry carrying flags, followed by a group of dancers in their colorful regalia. Everyone is asked to stand during the entry. The Mukkwa Giizhik

Drum will be the host drum for the Grand Entry. Ms. Sorrels said while the workshops are popular, the Grand Entry is a major highlight of the event as people love to see all everyone involved in the ceremony.

The local Grandmother Moon Drum Circle will be a special guest at this year’s festival. They will perform between noon and 1 p.m. Saturday, then intermittently at regular intervals throughout the rest of the day’s activities with some planned breaks for discussion and questions from the audience. The group will perform a number of songs, traditional teachings, and stories in both the Ojibwe language Anishinabeemowin and English.

The Lunch Box food truck will be open for brunch and lunch Saturday and offerings on the menu will include fry bread and the popular “Indian tacos” made using it.

Sunday’s activities will take place alongside the museum longhouse, beginning with a pipe ceremony at 9 a.m. A talking circle will run throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

The museum is at 500 North State Street. It will be open all day Saturday with admission by donation. The museum store will also be open. Visitors to the festival will be able to register to win the prizes that will be given away throughout the day at the welcome table.

This weekend’s festival is one of two upcoming Native Americanthemed events in St. Ignace this season. Heritage Days, including both the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and the Fort de Buade Museum, will take from Friday, July 14, through Sunday, July 16. The event will include Native American programming, reenactments, drummers, and dancers.

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