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Forest County Potawatomi to celebrate changing of seasons with Winter’s End Powwow

The Winter's End Powwow held at the Forest County Potawatomi Community Center.
Potawatomi Traveling Times
The Winter's End Powwow will be held at the Forest County Potawatomi Community Center.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community is once again hosting its Winter’s End Powwow.

Ruth Pemma is the vice-chair of the tribe’s powwow committee. It was 20 years ago when she first started helping organize the annual tradition.

It used to be held at Wabeno High School and then Crandon’s before it outgrew both of those.

“It’s grown big. It’s a big event. A lot of people come because there’s hardly any tribes that have a winter, two-day powwow,” said Pemma.

The Winter’s End Powwow is now held at the Forest County Potawatomi Community Center east of Crandon.

It will start the evening of Friday, March 24 with a Royalty Contest where the tribe selects their royalty who will represent them at other tribes’ powwows this year.

It’s one of Pemma’s favorite parts of the Winter’s End Powwow.

“They answer questions from the panel. Then they have a little exhibition on their style of dance. The drums will be there, and they’ll sing songs for them. We judge them on the time they start, if they dance the right steps to that song. We also look at the beat, and then their stopping. We’ll look at all that stuff,” said Pemma.

Saturday there will be two grand entries, contests, and a feast with the powwow ending on Sunday with another grand entry.

“This powwow is a celebration of the winter coming to an end. It’s also a social dance. It’s bringing everybody together to have fun, to eat, to visit. I think that’s what I like most about it is you get to see all your old friends and make new friends,” said Lisa Milligan, powwow committee secretary.

The powwow is this weekend. It’s free and open to the public.

Pemma enjoys having non-Native Americans come and learn and experience a part of her culture for themselves.

“Things that they read in school are kind of different when they actually come to a powwow, then going by just looking at pictures in books or what they read a long time ago. That’s the beginning of our dance, it’s the culture. A lot of time we invite a lot of people to really come and see what we do. They participate. Tell them that anyone can go out there and dance. I like seeing that,” said Pemma.

Milligan added it’s a sign of respect to see non-tribal members there.

“Everyone is welcome. To us, it means a lot for people that aren’t a part of our tribe to come in and see what we do because you’re showing respect and honor for our ways. It makes us feel good to see that,” she said.

The grand entries will be at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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