Hunting Moon Pow Wow: Opportunity for Native Americans to show they are "very much relevant"

MILWAUKEE -- Competition heats up at the 12th annual Hunting Moon Pow Wow of the Forest County Potawatomi. It's a time for Native Americans to share their culture with all of southeast Wisconsin.

"You have a jingle dress dancer who represents Mother Earth -- and they're more the healing type," said Colleen Moore, Hunting Moon Pow Wow seamstress. "You have men's traditional; men's fancy that have the big feathers and the big bustles on the back side and very colorful and faster dance pace."


Each color, each pattern, all hand-made and unique to the dancer who wears the traditional regalia.

"It's not something you can go in the store and buy and everybody has that same shirt and that same design," Moore said.

The fun begins with the beat of the drum.

"A lot of things that we sing about we carrying in our hearts and our minds and we think about it all the time and we give thanks to our drum for letting us express that," said Joey Rainey of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

Rainey has been playing the drum since he was two years. He's just one of two dozen drummers who have gathered for the three-day event at the Milwaukee Panther Arena.

"It's always interesting to have our culture being brought to the masses like it is here in Milwaukee," Rainey said.

This is Wisconsin's largest pow wow -- and a free event -- giving many tribes the chance to share aspects of their Native American culture with people here in southeast Wisconsin.

"We're kind of just stating that we are still here and we are very much relevant in your communities," Rainey said.

This pow wow is an important social gather symbolizing change is coming.

"Hunting Moon means that it's the end of the season," Moore said.

And when it's all over, the participants reflect on the spiritual experience.