Oneida Pow Wow draws largest crowd ever while ancient canoe helps bridge tribal relations

·2 min read

Sheku ("hello" in Oneida) and yaw^ko ("thank you") for reading the First Nations Wisconsin newsletter.

I attended the Oneida Pow Wow last weekend and seeing dozens of traditional dancers in traditional regalia truly was a beautiful sight.

Performers from multiple Indigenous nations danced to the beat of the drums, competing for $91,000 in prize money.

It was the first pow wow in Oneida since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It had been planned for last year, but a summer surge in variants, such as delta and omicron, led to its cancellation.

There were fewer vendors than usual this year to help encourage social distancing, but there were still plenty of crafts to peruse and purchase, such as jewelry made by Indigenous artists.

Organizers said this was the most-attended Oneida Pow Wow in its 48 years. It usually attracts about 10,000 spectators over its three days.

My one complaint was the massively long lines for food, such as Indian tacos and frybread. People in line said they were waiting well more than an hour.

My soon-to-be fiancée and I were hungry, so we left to pick up some pizza in Green Bay about 10 minutes away (still on Oneida Reservation land), but we came back to enjoy the rest of the festivities.

Pow wow organizers on social media said they'll work on shortening the food lines for future events.

In a story published this week, we look at how a 1,200-year-old canoe discovered by the Wisconsin Historical Society is helping to bridge relations among state archeologists, historians and tribal officials.

In years past, relations between state archeologists and tribal officials had been strained, especially over issues such as past excavations of ancient burial mounds.

Relations also have been strained over the past acquisition and collecting of important tribal artifacts in non-tribal museums that tribal officials are continuing to try to repatriate.

But tribal and state officials are working together to preserve the ancient canoe to use it as an educational tool.

In addition to the article about the ancient canoe, here are links to other stories involving historic Indigenous artifacts and some of the efforts to repatriate them.

Two of the articles involve returning ancient human remains to tribes after they had been excavated in Wisconsin.

Another article is about how a powder horn that belonged to an important member of the Wisconsin-based Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation was recently returned to the tribe after it had been in possession of the Oshkosh Public Museum for decades.

Finally, my colleague, Debra Krol at the Arizona Republic, has an explainer piece describing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

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About me

I'm Frank Vaisvilas, a Report For America corps member based at the Green Bay Press-Gazette covering Native American issues in Wisconsin. You can reach me at 815-260-2262 or fvaisvilas@gannett.com, or on Twitter at @vaisvilas_frank. Please consider supporting journalism that informs our democracy with a tax-deductible gift to this reporting effort at GreenBayPressGazette.com/RFA.

This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: First Nations Wisconsin: Oneida Pow Wow draws record crowd in 2022