For ten days in August (2010) my wife and I were up north in the hills between Boyne Falls (Michigan) and Gaylord visiting with family.  We had been there for almost a week when her Aunt Gloria gave us an information sheet she had taken off from the Internet about the 19th annual Odawa Homecoming Pow Wow which would occur on the 14th and the 15th.  Since most of the family had little interest in attending, Gloria and I went on Sunday (15th). 

I think 2004 was the last time I had spent any real time at a pow wow.  That was the year I took the photographs for my first Pow Wow Scrapbook Photos pages (two rows up in the index from this one).  However, since I have had a couple of past negative experiences with taking pictures at pow wows, the first thing I did was ask if there was a sheet of photography protocols to clearly let me know when photography was allowed and especially when it was not.  The announcer said they did not have anything in print, but that I could photograph during the Grand Entry and then pretty much anytime after the next two (honor) songs.  He assured me he would announce anything different.  The first (and only) announcement changed what he had already told me, but we will get to that. 




Even though we had a little trouble finding the tribal grounds where the pow wow was taking place, we arrived at least a half hour prior to the scheduled start (Grand Entry) which meant on "Indian time" we probably had about an hour or so before things would actually get going.  The announcer with whom I had spoken about picture taking, in answering a question of mine about public seating areas, offered that we could sit in the elders area if we wished.  Apparently the combination of Gloria's white hair and my grey hair provided all the evidence needed for such hospitality.  Though thanking him, we actually sat in the public area.  My decision was based on the position of the sun and, photographically speaking, what would be best throughout the day.  But, it turned out fortuitously to be a good choice otherwise as well (I will explain later).  Once we had placed the chairs we brought along, we went for a walk around the perimeter between the vendors circle and the spectators circle (below pictures). 



We returned to the public seating area which was right next (south side) to the arena entrance (east).  The elder seating was on the other side (north side) of the entrance.  While we sat waiting, I watched the preparations, zooming in for a picture here and there from my chair, trying to photographically get a sample feel of those moments leading up to the call for Grand Entry.  I also took a few whimsical shots, such as the one in the second row below on the left.  It looked to me like one of the "Little People" of Cherokee legend might be standing on top of the tents.  Of course, the woman in the picture is actually on a trail coming over the hill into the ceremonial grounds which I heard some members of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians refer to as "the bowl." 

On our walk, I noticed the drums were out in the sun being readied.  The article (by Christina Rohn) which Aunt Gloria had given us was primarily about one of the drum groups who would be at the pow wow.  "Their job at a pow wow is to provide rhythm, peace and harmony," according to the article which included group members names and the following additional information (excerpt);  "Patrick James Naganashe, 30, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and Spirit Lake, a local drum group that will perform this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 14-15, at the 19th annual Odawa Homecoming Pow Wow in Harbor Springs, says there is a lot more to playing a drum and singing than people might think.   '(Drumming) is really a calling on a spiritual level,' he said. 'We have the responsibility of bringing people together.'  Naganashe explained that drums were introduced to Native American people as a tool for creating peace.  'Legend says, a long, long time ago, there was a lot of fighting and sickness between the different tribes in Canada, the (United States) and Mexico,' he said.  'One day, a young woman went out and prayed to God for peace . . . God told her that he would send her a tool that men could use to bring the tribes back together.  When she awoke from her vision, she saw a traditional/hand drum.'  Naganashe, who has been drumming and singing since the age of 4 or 5, says for him, drumming is a spiritual experience.  'The drum has a spirit inside of it, and we are appealing to that drum to reach out and touch the community,' he said.  'There are times you can really feel it; I have to believe it is the spirits — our past loved ones and those ancestors coming to help guide us.'  He says, at times, when the entire group is playing in sync, 'You can hear a woman’s voice in the background over ours — it is really intense.'  Naganashe says that the rhythm created by the drum is symbolic of a mother’s heartbeat.  'Everybody feels more at peace and more secure when we are near our mother’s heartbeat,' he said.  'And that is what the drum represents, that continuous rhythm.'  Mike Naganashe, Patrick’s 29-year-old brother, who is also part of the Spirit Lake drum group, said drumming makes him feel, 'good, humble and proud.'  Jeremy Joy, 22, of Cheboygan, who is a tribal member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and who also plays with Spirit Lake, said for him, drumming is a way of relieving stress.  'It is a way of venting. I feel a lot calmer and more at peace when I drum,' Joy said.  Patrick said Spirit Lake has between seven and eight members on average, who sit in a circle around a 'big' drum during pow wows and provide the rhythm and songs for dancers.  He says during competition pow wows, like this weekend’s, which is specifically a dance competition pow wow, their job as drummers/singers is extremely important.  'You want to make sure (the dancers) have an appropriate song and a clean beat and rhythm to follow,' Patrick said.  'If the rhythm is off, it makes it difficult for them to compete at the highest level they can.'  Patrick said it has been several years since he and his brother have attended the Odawa Homecoming Pow Wow, and they are extremely excited to perform and visit with family and friends.  'There is a sense of pride that this is our pow wow and you really want to represent the tribe well,' he said. 'It is kind of a homecoming for us.  We are excited to see everyone.'"

a quarter to one
the announcer
informed us all
that Grand Entry
 was about to start.

  The published time
had been noon
— so —
 not too bad

  "Indian time."


Unfortunately, he also announced that the head veterans had requested that no picture taking be allowed during Grand Entry.  I put my camera in its case and did not bring it back out again until 1:16 PM (according to my camera's clock) after the Grand Entry and  honor dances had finished. 

In the image about four rows up on the left, the lady wearing the pow wow logo shirt is holding tickets.  Those were for a 50/50 drawing.  And, since this is a competition pow wow, you may have also notice a number on some of the regalia in the "getting ready" photos.  They will appear more often in the pictures to follow.  During certain dances, the numbers allow judges to identify the various participants.  This also explains pictures of contenders seemingly waiting for something, and a few with people in the dance arena holding pen and paper in hand.     


Before I get too far with the many image selections of the dancing, I would like to share my very favorite picture from all the participants (below right).  In the over five hundred photos I took, this little tike only appears in a few during the first intertribal dance.  To me, hers is the ultimate "just as I am" moment.  No pretense — I love it. 

In these pages I will simply be sharing pictures of the dancing without descriptions.  In my first Pow Wow Scrapbook Photos (pages mentioned earlier), I included explanations of the various types of dances.  Rather than repeat the information here, I suggest you check there if not already familiar with them but interested.  Enjoy. 



continued on the next page