BARAGA, Michigan (WLUC) – This weekend, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) comes together for their 43rd annual Pow-Wow. The event started on a dark note on Friday morning.
Dozens of people gathered at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Orphanage, at the former Assinins Mission site, where KBIC members say Indigenous children were abused decades ago. The group held ceremonies in honor of these children, as well as the 215 children whose bodies were found buried at an Indigenous residential school in Canada in May.
“We want to remember them wherever they are,” said event organizer Rodney Loonsfoot. “This call is for us to be able to use our culture – our identity of who we are – to come together in a circle and create what we’re meant to be here for.”
They then walked a mile from the orphanage to Ojibwa Campgrounds. The march was a symbol of their unity and strength.
KBIC members say it’s hard to think about what happened at the orphanage and elsewhere, the walk and ceremonies were all about healing.
“Seeing the effects of what happened in all the residential schools and what it did to our culture and our community, we were practically taught to be ashamed of who we are,” said Rencie, a participant. . “It’s not only that we find bodies, but we find our spirit.”
KBIC members say they plan to continue calling on President Joe Biden and Governor Gretchen Whitmer to help them uncover past abuse and locate the remains of any indigenous children killed.
“We will demand that these bodies be returned to us, and also that justice be done for the children who perished and the crimes against our people,” said Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson, grandmother of Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge.
The community is now looking forward to better days together.
“Today is a good day,” Loonsfoot said. “COVID is gone, and we were lucky enough to come together in a circle and smile. It’s going to be even bigger. “
The powwow takes place at the Ojibwa campsite off the US-41 in Baraga. There will be vendors and shows until Sunday.
Entrance to the Pow-Wow is free and everyone is welcome to attend. Click here for more information.
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