30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Powwow teaches virtues of Native culture


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Multiple people dance at the same time and showcase many different types of regalia during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow, which was held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.

Louanna Bruner was not raised on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Reservation. In fact, she only moved to Mount Pleasant in 1995. However, one of her fondest memories growing up was attending the traditional Powwows put on by the Tribe.

Despite not being raised in the Native American heritage, Bruner’s made it a point to remain in close contact with her culture. Even more so, she wants her ancestry to be a cornerstone for her children.

“It’s a spiritual connection,” Bruner said. “My daughter dances. It’s natural for her to dance and be immersed in our culture. I learn through them. They continuously remind me what’s important. I’m grateful I’m here.”

By attending the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Powwow on Saturday, Bruner has yet again given her 10-year-old daughter, Jenna, a chance to learn more about where they came from.

The events, which are held twice a year, host tribes from all over North America. The share of their culture among themselves and with interested outsiders has become a major conduit for expressing a rich Native history.

Dressed in colorful regalia, nearly 700 Native Americans danced to intertribal songs played with traditional instrumentation.

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Members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe lead the veterans during the start of the Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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A child of the tribe smiles up at her mother during the Veteran's ceremony portion of the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Two female members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe are dressed in traditional Regalia while watching the beginning of the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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One member, dressed in traditional Regalia, dances to the beat of the drums during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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A member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe dances to the beat of the drums during the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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A female tribal member wears a jingle dress for the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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During the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014, a male member dances to the drums in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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The elaborate regalia is eye catching and dynamic, as each one is different from other tribal members'. The 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow showcased dancers, singers, and the regalia on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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During the 30th Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH., children can compete in different dancing categories as well.
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One child waits for a new song to start during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Members of the tribe participate together in the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Much of the Regalia is brightly colored and full of detailed. This Regalia was on display on Saturday, July 26, 2014, during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Dressed in elaborate regalia, one child watches the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow from the side before joining in himself on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Dressed in elaborate regalia, one child watches the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow from the side before joining in himself on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Dressed in a fancy shawl, one young member dances during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Showing the detail of her fancy shawl, one young member spins and dances to the music at the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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During the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow, one member wears men's traditional wear on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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One member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe wears elaborate Regalia during the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Flipping and twirling her fancy shawl during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow, one young member shows off her detailed shawl. The powwow took place on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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During the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow, one member performs traditional dance steps while wearing men's traditional regalia. The Powwow took place in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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A member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe wears a brightly colored fancy shawl during the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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One member of the tribe performs traditional dance steps to the music during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Regalia consists of different elements and elaborate pieces. Each member showcased their regalia during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow. The Powwow took place on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Many children performed together during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Another member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe dances to the drums during the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow in Mount Pleasant, MICH on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Much of the regalia showcased at the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH. was full of detail and rich in color.
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One member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe wears men's traditional regalia during the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Precise footwork is a main element during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow. The members perform traditional dance steps with precision on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Proudly dressed in men's traditional regalia, one Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe member dances during the 30th Annual Powwow in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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One young member performs traditional dance steps during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow. The Powwow was held in Mount Pleasant, MICH on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Dressed in brightly colored and elaborate regalia, one member dances to the music during the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Dancing to the traditional music at the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow, is a member dressed in brightly colored regalia. The Powwow took place in Mount Pleasant, MICH. on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
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Dancing and twirling to the beat of traditional music, one young Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe member proudly wears elaborate and complex regalia during the 30th Annual Tribal Powwow. The powwow was held on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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During the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow, a child shares a moment with another member of the tribe on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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The woman's jingle dress is elaborately decorated and enhanced with bright colors as shown at the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow on Saturday, July 26, 2014. The Powwow was held in Mount Pleasant, MICH.
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Louanna Brunner and Richard Jackson or "Yogi" as he is known as by friends and family take a break from watching the 30th Annual Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Powwow to take a picture together on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, MICH. Yogi is the fifth oldest tribal member and both himself and Brunner are from Mount Pleasant, MICH.

While the Powwows help to reaffirm who they are, Jenna and Bruner’s other children have another interesting avenue that educates them on their antiquity – their grandfather is Richard “Yogi” Jackson, the fifth oldest member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

Yogi beaded a necklace that Jenna now wears while she dances.

“She told me she brings it to every Powwow,” Bruner said. “I’m glad my kids cherish (their culture) instead of just taking it for granted.”

Yogi has been going to Powwows for decades. In many ways, the Powwows are his birthright. Yogi’s roots run deep into reservation soil, as his family was the very first to have a house on the allocated lands.

In these modern times, Yogi said it’s important the Tribe to keep his culture alive.

“It’s really nice to see so many Indians gathered,” Yogi said.

Non-Tribal members also attend the Powwow to learn about the history and heritage behind the Tribe. Donna Kriss, a life-long Mount Pleasant resident, said she has attended many Powwows in her lifetime, and is always learning something new.

Kriss said she started to learn about the Tribe’s culture at a young age because one of her classmates would go into the woods to learn about his heritage.

“It was so totally foreign to us white kids,” she said. “I knew a little bit, but I just didn’t understand it. There’s so much culture here. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of understanding. The more that I come, the more that I learn.”

An unlikely education for vendors

Vendors at the Powwow also enjoy spending time around the dancers and drummers. Cindy and Chris Bowman travel the country attending Powwows and selling their handmade crafts.

“We love meeting new people,” Cindy said. “Seeing the dancers that go from one Powwow to the next is great. A lot of dancers make a living doing this. It’s always nice to hear their name called when they win.”

The couple from Raleigh, N.C. said they enjoy making the traditional wares they sell because it connects them to their own family history. Cindy is a member of the Osage Nation in North Carolina.

The two spend countless hours on the road while making and selling purses, jewelry, arrows, artwork and dreamcatchers. They attend at least 30 Powwows every year.

“I’ll be driving, and she’s still making stuff,” Chris said. “When we’re not traveling, we’re still working. Everything’s a little different.”

Cindy added, “It’s hard work, but we like meeting new people and new vendors.”

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