Indian Summer Festival’s Winter Pow wow heats up Wisconsin State Park

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (NFIC) 2-09

Indian Summer Festival’s 17th Annual Winter Pow Wow livens up the weekend of Feb. 28-March 1 at Wisconsin State Fair Park, Wisconsin Products Pavilion, 640 S. 84th St. (gate 5).  A traditional pow wow brings people together to dance, sing, socialize, and generally have a good time.  The pow wow features an extensive marketplace where vendors offer arts and crafts, traditional foods and herbs, jewelry, books and other items for purchase.  Food vendors will offer fry bread and Indian Tacos, as well as other family-friendly fare such as hot dogs and soft drinks. A prayer ceremony is being planned for March 1st.

A pow wow session begins with the Grand Entry, during which all the dancers line up by dance style and age, then enter the arena while a host drum sings a special song. The host drum is a drum group responsible for providing music for the dancers.  During an intertribal dance, a drum will sing a song and anyone (American Indian and non-American Indian) can join the dance.

Pow wow hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Grand entry times are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.  Those attending the Prayer Ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday morning are admitted free. Admission for the general public is $7, for elders 60 and over is $5, and children 12 and under are free.

Dates for the 2009 Indian Summer Festival are Sept. 11-13 at Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds) on Milwaukee’s beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront. Indian Summer Festival is North America’s largest American Indian cultural festival. The Indian Summer office is located at 10809 W. Lincoln Ave., Suite #101, West Allis, WI  53227, phone (414) 604-1000, or visit> 

Indian Summer Festival celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year. The organization behind the festival, Indian Summer Festivals, Inc., was started in 1985 in Milwaukee by three different American Indian families. Since the first festival was held in 1986, Indian Summer Festival has grown with the support of other festivals (especially Irish Fest), volunteers, grants from government and non-profit agencies, and tribal and corporate sponsorships.

The festival’s board includes members of many tribes and nations, including Chippewa, Oneida, Menominee, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Apache, Potawatomi and Mohican. The fact that cultural areas, such as the pow wow arena, are blessed and enforced as “non-alcohol” areas, makes Indian Summer unique and especially family-oriented. Organizers endeavor to include groups from throughout North, South and Central America. There is special emphasis on educating young people about the American Indian, as shown by Education Day, held every year on the Friday before the festival’s official opening.

Indian Summer Festival is dedicated to strengthening the American Indian community and educating the general public on the history and the unique and diverse cultures of the American Indian by providing a forum to celebrate and showcase American Indian traditions.