A group of Pokagon Band citizens travelled to the U.S. capital July 20 through July 22 to participate in the Living Earth Festival at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.The festival celebrated indigenous contributions to environmental sustainability and showcased Native American culture and traditions.
The Living Earth Festival featured an organic farmers market, an outdoor cooking competition, music and dance performances, and workshops.
Greg Morsaw, a northern-style traditional dancer, was part of the group that travelled to the festival. “This was my second year attending the event,” said Morsaw.
“Because of my age, I led out the dancers every day and every session after the flag carriers.” Participants danced twice per day from Friday through Sunday.
“We had between 40 and 50 tribal members come down for the event,” said Morsaw.“Last year, only a handful of tribal members participated.We were invited back, and the Department of Language and Culture did a great job of getting more people involved.”
Morsaw feels that it is always good for the non-native community to be exposed to aTribe or Band of native people.“It is good for them to see what we are doing now, and learn about the teachings that we pass on to future generations,” said Morsaw.“It is important to expose others to our culture and let them see that there is more to Native Americans than just building casinos.”
Because Washington D.C. is a tourist destination, there was a huge non-native turnout at the festival. People of all races, ages and demographics enjoyed seeing dancing, drumming and native artwork first hand.
“It was important for me to participate in this event,” said Morsaw.“People make trips to Washington DC for many different reasons, such as protesting treaties. It was nice to be able to go there for a different reason and show people why we protested.We have a lot to offer to the non-native community.We have a great opportunity to educate people about who we are and what we do.”
By Jennifer Klemm-Dougherty