Gallery: 25th Annual Celebrating Life Pow Wow

CM-Life article by  

Adding a grandson to his dance troupe of six sons at the Central Michigan University Pow Wow, Rick Cleveland ensured the cultural heritage of Native Americans will continue to live on through generations.

The lead singer of the Ho-Chunk, a Michigan Native American tribe, performed several songs and dances at Saturday’s 25th Annual CMU “Celebrating Life” Pow Wow.

“There’s no better way to express ourselves than through dance and song (than) with friends and family,” Cleveland said. “It’s a very special time and I am fortunate enough to be able to share these moments with my children.”

The weekend festivities opened with the grand entry at McGuirk Arena in the CMU Events Center. All of the dancers entered the dance circle arena, led by the head veteran and flag bearers. The 35-minute ceremony featured dancers performing synchronized steps to the beat of the host drum as the tribes were introduced.

After the grand entry, the smoke dance began, making its first appearance at the CMU Pow Wow on Saturday in honor of the 25th anniversary. The dance, performed by both men and women, has a fast beat and many steps, which require the dancer to be focused on the rhythm of the music.

CMU alumnus David Purchase and his wife, who occasionally attend Michigan pow wows, enjoyed teaching their two grandchildren about the Native American culture on Saturday during the grand entry.

“The Pow Wow exposes younger people to what the Native American culture has done, so it’s comforting to see so many students around,” Purchase said. “The local Native Americans here are very welcoming and have a lot of strong outlooks on life and love.”

Throughout the rest of the day, McGuirk Arena was consistently energized with a number of dance and drum contests. Both adults and young adults had their own competitions, where many traditional Native American dances were performed.

The main dances were the traditional dance, grass dance, women’s jingle dress dance and the fancy dance – a competitive dance tailored for modern male warriors.

Darrel Hill, one of the male fancy dancers, said he loved the energy the crowd brought and encouraged more students to attend the pow wows.

“Students can get a proud sense of the culture and knowledge of native people by coming here and seeing what we are all about,” Hill said. “They don’t just learn about the culture, they learn about life and love as well.”

Set up next to McGuirk Arena was the arts and crafts vendors area, where attendees browsed and purchased various items from more than 20 different vendors. A wide variety of hand-made goods were available to customers, which ranged from clothes and jams, to pet rocks and warrior knives.

This marks the first year Native American vendor Cindy Pigeon setup her collection of hand-made Native American necklaces and dreamcatchers to be sold at the CMU Pow Wow.

“I really want everyone to feel comfortable here and to realize that we are just the same as everyone else,” Pigeon said. “We enjoy opening up our culture for students and other young people to show them who we actually are, not just who they think we are.”

Pigeon stressed the importance of students coming out and meeting Native Americans themselves, so their viewpoints of the Native American culture are not limited to how the culture is sometimes perceived through media.

One of the many aspects that made the pow wow possible was the large number of volunteers, many of whom were CMU students, who showed up to help organize and setup.

Warren sophomore Brooke Dixon had an educational and an entertaining time volunteering on Saturday, and said she thinks other students would be amazed by what the pow wow has to offer.

“Learning about a different culture in this way is definitely a fun, new experience,” Dixon said. “It’s important for students to come out and experience the unique traditions because they are so entertaining.”

Read the story on CM-Life’s website here

Drumming to the Beat of History

Walking into McGuirk arena on March 22 and 23, 2014 transported spectators to an area of vibrant colors and astonishing sounds. The 2014 CMU Pow Wow drew thousands of people to Central Michigan University’s Campus.

Most spectators focus their attention to the center of the pow wow where dancers of all ages perform a variety of dances. The competitors move with the music as they dance and the costumes themselves seem to have their own connection to the beat of the drum as they sway, jingle and move to the music. Without the songs of the drumming groups, the dancers would have no beat to dance to.

Like the dancers, drumming and singing groups are also competing for a prize at the pow wow. The songs they sing are original pieces, made in a variety of ways by members of the group. Matthew and Nathan Isaac of Crazy Spirit and Greg Dayfox of Big Sun share their experience of being in one of these groups. Each song has a message, and inspire the dancers and spectators around them. The distinguishable sounds of the pow wow fuels the curiosity of others to glimpse into the Native American culture, and the deeper meanings behind the songs hold important messages for all.

Video produced by Shannon Millard, Andraya Croft, Samantha Madar, Alexis Denoyer, and Kaiti Chritz.

T.I.D. Workshop

The Image Deconstructed workshop was a rich environment for learning and making friends with fellow photojournalists. T.I.D took place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina set in a room on University of North Carolina’s stunning campus. I am personally grateful for Logan Mock­Bunting and Ross Taylor Photographers and Co- founders of The Image, Deconstructed for putting together an amazing workshop that left my brain full and my hands and mind ready to shoot. T.I.D wasn’t just about the photography it was also touched on business, therapy, improvisation and creative writing. Everything referred to photojournalism but in new ways that I had not talked about before in college courses. A personal favorite talk was “The Distance Between Us,” by Chris Capozziello where he discussed his ten year photo story on his brother with cerebral palsy. I related to his struggles and learned from Chis because it is hard to photograph family and he spoke about it in a new way that I can learn from and use for my current work. Driving home from North Carolina was a time to look back and reflect on the powerful moments us Central Michigan University students just shared with photojournalist across the county. I am home now ready to look at photography with new eyes and eagerness to tell stories.

Sidney’s Judges Bench: Old bar with a new owner

After looking for something different to do for roughly four years Sidney Tilmann decided to buy a bar. The last 27 years of her life was spent as a hairdresser that went into the homes of elderly and handicapped people. In the small town of Winn, Mich. sits a bar called Sidney’s Judges Bench among a closed hardware store and other dying local businesses. Tilmann is in love with owning the bar after 7 weeks of being open for business. She said it was fun to transform the bar, and to bring it up to date. “The first couple of weeks were all things that you didn’t see. Floor braces, because half of this building was built in 1893 so it needed some tender love and care. It was fun once we got past that stage where we got up here. The painting, the new beer taps, the new lights, new cooler, and redid the kitchen so that it flows easier and is more worker friendly for everyone back there,” said Tilmann. The future is bright for the bar, the menu has been revamped and they are ready to make the history of The Bench continue long into the future.