Indian Summer Festival


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Held at Henry Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront each September, the Indian Summer Festival is one of the largest celebrations of Native American culture in the United States.[1] Approximately 45,000 people attend this three day event.[2] Butch Roberts, a Milwaukee police detective and an Oneida Nation member, started the festival in 1986 to celebrate Native American culture. The festival is geared towards both education and entertainment; participants teach children about their history in Wisconsin, engage in traditional dances, and play sports ranging from boxing to lacrosse.[3] The powwow contest is the central event of the Indian Summer Festival. It includes the Grand Entry and competitions in grass dancing, war dancing, and traditional dancing.[4] Since 2016, visitors have been able to view the Living Culture of the Woodlands exhibit, which shows how Wisconsin nations traditionally made baskets, worked beads, and built houses.[5] The festival’s food vendors sell frybread and buffalo sandwiches.[6]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Patty Loew, Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, 2nd ed. (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013), 170.
  2. ^Indian Summer Festival,” FestivalNet, accessed January 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Loew, Indian Nations of Wisconsin, 170-1.
  4. ^ Robert DesJarlait, “The Contest Powwow versus the Traditional Powwow and the Role of the Native American Community,” Wicazo Sa Review 12, no. 1 (1997): 118.
  5. ^ Hannah Kirby, “Indian Summer Celebrating 30 Years,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Loew, Indian Nations of Wisconsin, 170.

For Further Reading

Bieder, Robert. Native American Communities in Wisconsin, 1600-1960: A Study of Tradition and Change. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

Doxtator, Antonio J., and Renee J. Zakhar. American Indians in Milwaukee. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia, 2011.

Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, 2nd ed. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013.

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