The Gustavian Weekly

Mankato powwow brings Dakota families together | The Gustavian Weekly

By Jack Wiessenberger - News Writer | September 28, 2018 | News

At 12:30 p.m. last Saturday, September 22, a bus filled with students left Gustavus bound for the 46th Annual Mahkato Native American powwow in Mankato. 

“You are invited to the 46th Annual Mahkato Pow Wow on September 21-23, 2018 at the Land of Memories Park in Mankato, Minnesota, honoring the Dakota 38,” the Crazy Crow website (the event’s organizer and supplier) said. 

The event ran for the whole weekend with a low admission price ($7 for the whole weekend) in order to be as inclusive as possible. 

The event was focused on being accepting and educational for all. 

Another main point of the festival was safety and simply having a good, pure time. 

To facilitate this, the organizer banned drugs and alcohol from the event. 

“The Mahkato Mdewakanton Association is a gathering of nations to celebrate and honor our traditions and ancestors; to reconcile and build bridges between all nations through education, storytelling, and sharing Dakota Indian culture,” the Mahkato Wacipi website states. 

A powwow is a traditional Native American festival that typically includes singing, dancing, and feasting. 

“The idea of the Mhkato powwow started in 1972… to bring awareness back to Mankato. It has become a homecoming for a lot of Dakota families.” 

-Mahkato Wacipi

However, this particular powwow had a deeper meaning. 

The event is stated as honoring the ‘Dakota 38.’

This was the name given to the 38 Dakota prisoners of war that were hanged in Mankato in 1862. 

“The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking,” Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Carol Chomsky said. 

The Dakota warriors surrendered after being told no harm would come to them by U.S General Sibley. 

Now, around 150 years later, this powwow honors these prisoners’ deaths.

“The idea of the Mahkato powwow started in 1972 with Amus Owens, Bud Lawrence and Jim Buckley who had a vision and a focus regarding reconciliation. To bring awareness back to Mankato. It has become a homecoming for a lot of Dakota families,” the Mahkato Wacipi website said. 

Amus Owens, Bud Lawrence, and Jim Buckley were the founders of this tradition that is now entering its 46th year.

“Folks come from South Dakota, North Dakota, all the way into Canada, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Montana, and from within Minnesota. People from all over the country like to travel to the Mahkato powwow because it’s one of the last outdoor traditional powwows,” Crazy Crow posted. 

The event is widely popular not only for those belonging to Native nations, but also the general public. 

“This isn’t the first time Gustavus has sponsored a trip to the Mankato powwow, necessarily. Last fall, a cultural anthropology class taught by Professor Annika Ericksen took a van of student volunteers to the powwow,” Gustavus CAB member and organizer of the trip, Tyra Banks, said. 

“I am the culture and diversity executive for CAB and my job is to expose Gustavus students to other cultures and events that are eye-opening for them and expands their knowledge of the world. So, we thought since Native American history and culture is something that a lot of Gusties including myself hadn’t been exposed to, a powwow would be perfect for that,” Banks said. 

The powwow has had a large cultural and historical background. 

This made a good opportunity for Banks to sponsor a traditional and diverse event for students to attend. 

“I, along with two fellow Campus Activity Board members, took about 25 students in a bus to the powwow along with Campus Activities advisor Andrea Junso and her family. Response from them showed that they really liked the powwow and the opportunity to learn something about Native American culture and history. The powwow was full of different performances, a variety of food such as fry bread, Indian tacos and such. There were also different arts and crafts such as dream catchers, pouches, necklaces, rings, flutes, and many many more,” Banks said.

The feelings about the powwow were generally positive. 

While not a large number of students attended the event, those who did seemed to enjoy it. 

There was no shortage of entertaining, educational, and engaging activities for the students to participate in. 

While having a good time eating traditional foods, dancing, and making crafts, students were able to get a better understanding and appreciation of Native American culture and the purpose behind this event. 

Banks said she will look to engage more students in diversifying events in the future. 

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