I am so glad I was able to attend the 103rd annual Meskwaki Powwow at the Meskwaki Indian Settlement, near Tama, Iowa, this past weekend. I appreciated my father being willing to go with me, since I don’t have a car. Besides the beauty and pageantry of the dancers and costumes, I was so impressed with how welcome all of us who attended were made to feel.
I first learned about this event when Donnielle Wanatee spoke with us at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) last month during the panel discussion “Building Bridges With Native Americans, Resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline.” During that discussion Donnielle invited us to attend the powwow. I wanted to do so as a way to continue to build the bridges that this panel discussion was part of. The bridge building had been occurring prior to this discussion, as Peter Clay (who was also on the panel) and other Iowa Friends had been involved with various efforts to resist the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline. One Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Friend, Marcia Shaffer, had been arrested in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience related to this.
I hoped attending the Meskwaki Powwow would be a way for me to develop some relationships myself, and find more ways for Iowa Quakers to continue to work on addressing our environmental disaster. I have been powerfully affected by connections I was blessed to make with Native Americans and others when I was living in Indianapolis. The past year or so we have worked to support the water protectors. Links below describe some of that.
I had also hoped to contribute by sharing photos I planned to take at the Powwow. Being aware of issues regarding photos and cultural appropriation, I checked to see what was expected by sending an email to the Powwow. I received a kind response saying it was fine to take photos during the dances and ceremonies, but to ask for permission to take other photos. I noticed the email was signed by David Wanatee, and with subsequent email exchanges found he is the brother of Donnielle. David also asked if I would share some photos on the Powwow’s Facebook page, which I had planned to do, and did. You can see that album here. As a result of those photos being on the Powwow’s Facebook page, there have been over 100 “likes” and a number of “shares” of the album, and some “friend” requests. Numerous people made comments and tagged people in the photos. Hopefully this will help to build bridges for further work together.
I had also shared the links below with Donnielle, David and Christine to try to give more background regarding my interest in connecting with them. To put it briefly, I have been disappointed in Quaker’s lifestyles related to the environment, especially regarding the use of personal automobiles. And I have been deeply, spiritually affected by my experiences with Indigenous peoples over the past couple of years. I believe Quakers would do well to create more bridges with, and follow the leadership of Indigenous peoples.