Native American display at Beattie Park

Native American display at Beattie Park


The first annual 4th of July Native American encampment at Beattie Park started off small, but the participants were encouraged that more people will be able to take part in the next one.

Organizers Ron Pawless and Harley Swinbeck noted that they only had two months to prepare for this new event, and some people who were originally scheduled had to bow out due to other commitments.

Originally, they hoped to have five lodges, but only two were on display at Beattie Park on the 4th. “We only had two months to set it up,” explained Harley Swinbeck. “Everyone’s involved with powwows in July and August, every weekend. ‘Honor the Mounds’ is coming up on August 10 at Beattie Park. Then we will have more lodges there, and drummers and dances.”

Swinbeck said he had talked to the Native American Center in Chicago and the Sioux Nation around Quad Cities. Wesley Miller is the chairman, and he will be involved next year.

A number of items on display at this year’s event were textiles, large walking sticks, some drums, paintings and sculptures arranged around the lodges. These came from Cherokee Nation & Indian Art in Machesney Park Mall.

Sherman MacVenn of the Cherokee Nation store added a little history on the tepees. The two on display were decorated in Plains style. “Traditionally, the only thing the man had was his clothes, his weapons and hunting equipment,” explained MacVenn. “Everything else, including the lodge, belonged to the woman. If a woman wanted a divorce, she set his stuff outside and closed the flap.”

Tom Nichols also cooked fry bread and offered free samples to taste, with a choice of toppings such as honey or jam.

Next year, the event is scheduled to be held at Haight Park. All Native Americans are welcome. For more information, contact Swinbeck at 963-8814 (home) or 742-8814 (cell).

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