Native American History, Dance Given At Historical Society Open House

September 15, 2023 at 9:49 p.m.
Members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation perform a live demonstration of Native American dancing Friday.Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
Members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation perform a live demonstration of Native American dancing Friday.Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union

By JACKIE GORSKI Lifestyles Editor

People gathered at the Old Jail Museum Friday to hear about the Potawatomi and see members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation dance during Third Friday.
Greg Steffe, co-director of the Kosciusko County Historical Society, said every year the society rotates its featured exhibit and this year’s exhibit is on the Native American heritage of Kosciusko County. Both the Miami and Potawatomi tribes have extensive history in Kosciusko County.
“And I was fortunate enough to connect with the Potawatomi tribal government and they were extremely receptive and helpful in putting this together, and we’re thrilled to have some of these guys here to share some of their culture with us,” Steffe said.
They were the nearest tribal government, headquartered out of Michigan, and Steffe was able to get hold of the proper people.
The exhibit was decided on because Native American history is such a large part of the area’s history.
“I mean, this is their land. They were here long before we were. My father’s family actually farmed and lived on a former Potawatomi 100-acres near Atwood,” Steffe said.
Madalene Big Bear with the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation said Friday’s event was mostly an educational segment. Mixed in with the educational segments, there was going to be men’s woodland dances, women’s woodland dances, women’s old-style traditional dances and jingle dances.

    Drum group Iron Bear Singers perform Friday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union

Drum group Iron Bear Singers also performed during Friday’s event during the dancing. Most of the dancers are mixed nation. Not all of them are Pokagon Potawatomi, Madalene Big Bear said.
The historical society tries to connect with Third Fridays because there’s already a built-in crowd downtown. It drives more people into the museum.
During Third Friday, there was an open house at the Old Jail Museum that exhibited artifacts that were uncovered in Kosciusko County or the immediate area. That exhibit will be at the museum until the museum closes in mid-December. Steffe said the artifacts include tomahawk heads, pictures, masks, rhinestones and arrowheads.

    Pictured is a live demonstration of Native American dancing that was given Friday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
 
 


Steffe said he hopes people attending Friday’s event will learn an appreciation about the tribe’s culture and traditions.
Madalene Big Bear said there’s a big misconception of Native Americans not “living current lives” that have evolved from what life was like 200 years ago. She was hoping to showcase who Native Americans are as opposed to the constant idea of Native Americans being a past people.
To watch the full performance, people can go to the Times-Union Facebook page and watch a recording of the live stream.

    Spectators at Friday evening’s event at the Kosciusko County Old Jail Museum get a closer look at the clothing worn by a Native American dancer. Members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation performed a live demonstration of authentic Native American dancing in front of the museum. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
 
 


People gathered at the Old Jail Museum Friday to hear about the Potawatomi and see members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation dance during Third Friday.
Greg Steffe, co-director of the Kosciusko County Historical Society, said every year the society rotates its featured exhibit and this year’s exhibit is on the Native American heritage of Kosciusko County. Both the Miami and Potawatomi tribes have extensive history in Kosciusko County.
“And I was fortunate enough to connect with the Potawatomi tribal government and they were extremely receptive and helpful in putting this together, and we’re thrilled to have some of these guys here to share some of their culture with us,” Steffe said.
They were the nearest tribal government, headquartered out of Michigan, and Steffe was able to get hold of the proper people.
The exhibit was decided on because Native American history is such a large part of the area’s history.
“I mean, this is their land. They were here long before we were. My father’s family actually farmed and lived on a former Potawatomi 100-acres near Atwood,” Steffe said.
Madalene Big Bear with the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation said Friday’s event was mostly an educational segment. Mixed in with the educational segments, there was going to be men’s woodland dances, women’s woodland dances, women’s old-style traditional dances and jingle dances.

    Drum group Iron Bear Singers perform Friday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union

Drum group Iron Bear Singers also performed during Friday’s event during the dancing. Most of the dancers are mixed nation. Not all of them are Pokagon Potawatomi, Madalene Big Bear said.
The historical society tries to connect with Third Fridays because there’s already a built-in crowd downtown. It drives more people into the museum.
During Third Friday, there was an open house at the Old Jail Museum that exhibited artifacts that were uncovered in Kosciusko County or the immediate area. That exhibit will be at the museum until the museum closes in mid-December. Steffe said the artifacts include tomahawk heads, pictures, masks, rhinestones and arrowheads.

    Pictured is a live demonstration of Native American dancing that was given Friday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
 
 


Steffe said he hopes people attending Friday’s event will learn an appreciation about the tribe’s culture and traditions.
Madalene Big Bear said there’s a big misconception of Native Americans not “living current lives” that have evolved from what life was like 200 years ago. She was hoping to showcase who Native Americans are as opposed to the constant idea of Native Americans being a past people.
To watch the full performance, people can go to the Times-Union Facebook page and watch a recording of the live stream.

    Spectators at Friday evening’s event at the Kosciusko County Old Jail Museum get a closer look at the clothing worn by a Native American dancer. Members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation performed a live demonstration of authentic Native American dancing in front of the museum. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
 
 


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