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‘Celebrating Life’ Pow Wow brings Native American, Mount Pleasant community together

Dance, food and competition brought the Native American community and Central Michigan University together at the 30th Annual “Celebrating Life” Pow Wow held March 23 and 24 in McGuirk Arena. 

Doors opened at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with Grand Entry ceremonies taking place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. During the ceremonies, all the participants took the floor to dance. 

Several dance competitions were held throughout the day while vendors all around McGuirk sold clothing and crafts.

(Right) James Falcon, 56, of the Mount Pleasant Saginaw Chippewa Tribe shares a moment with an attendee of the CMU Pow Wow, "Celebrating Life," March 23 at McGuirk Arena. 

The "Tiny Tot" dance competition was held for children under 5 years old. Another dance competition had women wearing jingle dresses, a type of regalia that has several rows of metal cones attached that jingle when dancers move. Later in the day was the "Men’s Fancy" dance, in which participants dressed in vibrantly colored regalia danced to an upbeat drum with fast footwork.

Mount Pleasant resident and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe member Chase Stevens participated in several dances through the day.

Liam Sands, 17, of Mount Pleasant competes against other fancy dancers at the CMU Pow Wow, "Celebrating Life," March 23 at McGuirk Arena. 

"I grew up going to pow wows, ceremonies and all that," Stevens said. "It's just a healthy way to spend time with our family and take part in a small part of our culture."

Mount Pleasant senior Hannah Bartol is a student assistant at the Office of Native American Programs at Central Michigan University and has been involved with the pow wow since she was a junior in high school. 

A family looks at homemade products from Michigan business Native Blend before the 30th annual "Celebrate Life" Pow-wow March 24 at McGuirk Arena.  

Bartol loves to see the Native American community come together. All twelve federally recognized tribes in Michigan were represented by members at the event, as well as some from other states and Canada. 

“Everybody’s having a great time singing, dancing, laughing, sharing memories and having a great time together,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see it all coming together and happening here at my school community at CMU.” 

This year’s pow wow marked Manistique senior Emily Bauman’s third year on the Pow Wow Committee. Bauman is a member of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and helped sign in visitors and direct them where they needed to go. 

Emanuel Poler of Mole Lake, Wisconsin plays the air guitar at the CMU Pow Wow, "Celebrating Life," March 23 at McGuirk Arena. 

Bauman said that accepting a scholarship from CMU’s Office of Native American Programs has helped her grow closer to her culture.

“I grew up not really knowing my tribe,” she said. “It’s given me a chance to not only connect with my roots but to connect with the roots of the people that have come before us.”

Bauman encourages those who have never gone to a pow wow to attend and feel free to ask lots of questions.

The pow wow will continue at 11 a.m. on March 24.