12th Annual ‘Honor the Mounds’ at Beattie Park

In what has become an end-of-summer ritual in Rockford, Native Americans from all over the country gathered once again in Beattie Park to “Honor the Mounds” Saturday, Aug. 25. It’s a tribute to ancestors, family reunion, and fun festival all rolled into one.

This was the 12th annual event. Participants included Spiritual Elder and Arena Director Terry “Standing Buffalo” Reynolds (Lakota); Firekeeper Dennis “White Bear” Dillard (Cherokee); Firekeeper Assistant Rick Klinkner; Master of Ceremonies Leonard Malatare (Confederated Salish & Kootenai of the Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana); “Sounds of the Wind” on drum; Larry “Little Wolf” Lockwood (Cheyenne), drum and singing; and Head Male Dancer Michael “7-Eagle Feather” Augsburger. The head female dancer was unable to be present on this day. Sound system was provided by Kolden Karokee.

The day began with blessings, Pipe Ceremony and Lighting of the Sacred Fire. David VanPerness spoke about the history of Beattie Park and the Mounds, as well as custodianship of the land. A promenade of dancers began the grand entry with Native American drums and dancing. Dick Rundall of Rock Valley College spoke about Native American spirituality and the Medicine.

Vendors included: Native American Awareness Committee, Midwest Food Vendor, Cherokee Nation and Indian Art, Dream Catchers, Helen Tijerina, Firehawk Traders and Reds Leather.

Reflections of participants

Some of the participants spoke with The Rock River Times. Leonard Malatare, spiritual elder, said: “Rockford’s a beautiful city. It’s a great venue for the Native Americans to come together and be able to participate, enjoy their tradition and culture. I want to thank the City of Rockford for allowing us to come here and celebrate the tradition of our ancestors. We have had a great time. The people here are wonderful, and I hope we can continue to do this.” His wife, Clovia, was one of the dancers.

Chris Maggio, a Caucasian, wished to represent the area’s Winnebago Indian heritage. “This is my third year,” she said, but for her daughter, “this is her first pow-wow.” Maggio found the Women’s Traditional Dance most meaningful for her. She also likes “the Round Dance because it’s a friendship dance, and instead of facing someone’s back, you’re side to side.” She liked the spiritual nature of the dances. “It’s not anti-God, but the Creator is honored. It’s a fun time.” Her favorite pow-wow treat? “Fry bread.”

Alisa Gassett tended a special booth just for those participating in the pow-wow. Her heritage represents Navajo, Cherokee, Chippewa and Blackfoot. “I’ve been here almost every year,” she said. “We make sure the dancers get fed, and we send them off with gifts, whatever they may need.”

Carlos Peynetsa’s tribal heritage is Zuni/Isleta Pueblo, from about 10 miles south of Albuquerque, N.M. He is a drummer. “I started out with the first Chicago drum group back in the Chicago Armory days,” he recalled. “I didn’t get into the pow-wow until I was elected chairman in 1972. That’s really when I got involved in Chicago pow-wows and the Ben Bearskin Senior, a Chicago drum group. I didn’t start dancing until about 1999. I started late because I was making my outfit. It took me about a year and a half. This drum group, we built it—it’s new—from the NAES/EIU (Native American Educational Services/Eastern Illinois University). We merged with the university. We made this drum at this college because we got tired of borrowing drums, so we made our drum. We have a dance group coming out of this college called the Black Hawk Dance Troupe. We did performances in the Field Museum, the public schools and the universities, and we go to pow-wows. The Black Hawk Dancers are at Zion (Ill.) right now. From here, we will go there and meet them. Some singers are waiting for us. We all dance.

“Lately, we just made a film for Channel 11 Travel Channel. The series will be called Wright Across America. The host, Ian Wright, is from England. We recorded that for his new series, and he will be doing it all across America. We’re the first group that they filmed. I’m also a Men’s Golden Age (55 and over) Chapter dancer. We call ourselves ‘the Ben-Gay Brigade.’”

One special drum performance was called B’na Ondwa (“Sounds of the Wind”) in Lakota. Other performances included the Rabbit Dance, in which men and women are partners; the Bear Clan Song; a children’s dance; an intertribal dance; and the Traveling Song, sung by Larry Lockwood (“Little Wolf”), a Cheyenne.

The day’s events concluded with the solemn Flag Ceremony, featuring the U.S. and Illinois state flags, the POW/MIA flag and a flag for the Native American Awareness Committee. Leonard Malatare wished all the participants and visitors “Tunksa”—Lakota for “Until we see you again.”

from the Sept. 19 – 25, 2007, issue

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