People in traditional attire at a Powwow

Native American Culture in Michigan

Native American Information Slideshow
Biddle House Native American Museum
Ziibiwing Center
Museum of Ojibwa Culture
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Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Ignace
Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center
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Exhibit at the Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center
Attending A PowWow
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8 Things to Know Before Attending a PowWow
Restoring Native Cultural Food Traditions
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Biddle House Native American Museum
Ziibiwing Center
Museum of Ojibwa Culture
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Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Ignace
Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center
Image
Exhibit at the Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center
Attending A PowWow
Image
8 Things to Know Before Attending a PowWow
Restoring Native Cultural Food Traditions
Image

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Drumbeats and jingling bells set the pace for singers and dancers skip-stepping into a grassy circle. Fringe, feathers and ribbons flutter with each step of the ritual start of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal National Pow Wow.  

But pow wows like this also share the tribes’ way of life with the public. Visitors in lawn chairs watch daughters and mothers in matching bell-trimmed calico dresses dance to the music their dresses make. Or maybe they join a circle to hear elders tell stories and teach quillwork and black ash basket weaving, or try traditional Native American foods like fry bread and wild rice soup. The scenes repeat—with a key difference—about 150 miles straight north, at the tip of the Mitten, during the Rendezvous at the Straits Powwow at Father Marquette National Memorial Park in St. Ignace.

The difference being this gathering is two events in one—part voyageur reenactment, part traditional pow wow. Large crowds gather to watch how the meeting of these cultures unfolded. In one area, visitors listen as soldiers play fifes while raising a flag; in another, boys in loincloths beat hand drums while singing. At one point, voyageurs show off the steel knives traded to area tribes; later they line up to battle them. 

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