Hannahville shares culture with community

ESCANABA – The Hannahville Indian Community’s Culture Committee hosted a Native American Awareness Celebration as part of Escanaba’s sesquicentennial Thursday afternoon.

The Awareness Celebration featured traditional dancers, drummers, and activities that gave a taste of the culture of both the Hannahville Indian Community Band of Potawatomi and Native Americans across the United States.

“We are grateful that we have the opportunity to teach you about our culture and about our language; even about our way of life,” said Vicki Dowd, vice-chairperson of the Hannahville Indian Community Culture Committee. “There are pow wows all over the Great Lakes, and to me we have the best one right here today.”

Dowd explained to the audience that pow wows are gatherings and celebrations where the community and guests can celebrate life.

“We give thanks for everything that we have in our community. Everything. Our home, our health, our children, our grandchildren, our grandparents – we celebrate that,” said Dowd.

Dancing, singing, and drumming – fundamental parts of a pow wow – were demonstrated for audience members. Drumming for the Awareness Celebration was Ditibahsin, a group of drummers from the Hannahville area whose name translates to “the rolling stone.”

Ditibahsin has represented the Hannahville Indian Community in pow wows across the country. Members of the group have even traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., for the Gathering of Nations, North America’s largest pow wow where groups from tribes across the North America celebrate and compete with each other.

“It’s like our Super Bowl, I guess,” said Ditibahsin drummer Eric Halfday.

A younger generation of tribal members took to the stage during the Awareness Celebration to show the techniques and dresses of Grass Dancers, Jingle Dress Dancers, and Fancy Shawl Dancers.

“This is like the first time a lot of our young kids are doing this kind of dancing in front of a (group) like this. When we get in a circle, that’s like our warmth, like our place to be,” said Dowd, referencing the more intimate setting of pow wows that are not performances.

Visitors to the park also had an opportunity to celebrate Native American heritage with crafts, food, and displays. Craft tables were set up where children could make dream catchers and beaded choker necklaces to take home with them to remember the day.

“Escanaba is 150 years old this year, and I am proud to say that our community has been here just as long as Escanaba – we’ve been here a little longer than that,” said Dowd noting the tribe could trace its roots back to the Cedar River area but, was moved to its current home in Hannahville by the U.S. government.

“I’m grateful for the place that I live. Very grateful,” she added.