Pow wow provides cultural enrichment

BALDWIN — The scent of sweet grass, the echo of drums and tribal songs, tribal dancers in traditional outfits and fry bread created an atmosphere fitting for the forested land at Shrine of the Pines. The Gissiwas Creek Pow Wow, of Marion, set up a pow wow on the weekend of Aug. 19 and 20, with vendors and tribal dancers coming from all over the state.

During the inter-tribal dance, dancers circled around a peace gathering staff, which belongs to dancer Mike Loonsfoot.

"The staff represents peace in the world and among people," Loonsfoot said. "I received this staff two years ago from Sam Bush, a World War II veteran who passed away. He asked me to carry the staff for him, and I am honored to do so. It is over 40 years old and has a golden eagle head on top."

Loonsfoot added he is a U.S. Army veteran who served in peacetime.

Two children, Dominick Burkhart and Everest Schulist, joined in the dance.

"My favorite part of the pow wow is the dancing," Burkhart said. "There is good food and nice people here."

Rhonda Loonsfoot, Mike Loonsfoot's wife, said this was the first pow wow in Baldwin in a few years.

"This is the first time since 2008 there was a pow wow here at Shrine of the Pines," she said. "We are trying to put it back together again."

Rhonda, a Navajo from New Mexico, explained some of the traditional outfits.

"Being a Navajo, there are geometrical patterns on my dress. My husband has a floral design on his outfit, which is traditional woodland design for Ojibwa," she said.

The event also featured vendors of authentic Native American jewelry, herbal products, crystals and more.

While the vendors and dancers were engaged in their work, Shrine of the Pines manager Maranda Riesmersma and Jake Richmond gave tours to visitors.

Riesmersma said they were glad to host the event.