posted October 12, 2005

Address Will Precede Pow Wow on Campus

An address at Hope College on Friday, Oct. 21, will anticipate a Native American pow wow that will be taking place on campus the next day, the first such gathering ever in the city of Holland.

The public is invited to both the address and the pow wow. Admission is free.

William Memberto, who is recently retired as director of Urban Indian Affairs with the Department of Human Services for the state of Michigan, will speak on Friday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication in an address sponsored by the college's Office of Multicultural Life. He will discuss of the culture of the Native Americans of the area, including historical perspective addressing their experience during the settlement by Europeans in the 1800s as well as an overview of the pow wow to help the audience better understand the next day's events.

The pow wow, a traditional gathering presented by the Anishnabek of West Michigan, will be held in the college's Pine Grove on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Native dancers in regalia, native singers and drummers as well as traders of Native-made wares will be present, and Native American food will be featured. The event's planning committee anticipates participants not only from throughout Michigan but from neighboring states and as far away as Arizona.

The activities on Saturday, Oct. 22, will begin with the Grand Entry at 1 p.m., with additional highlights including a second Grand Entry at 5 p.m. and the retirement of the colors at 7 p.m. Dances presented will include the Northern Traditional Men's Dance, the Northern Traditional Women's Dance, the Traditional Men's Grass Dance, the Traditional Women's Jingle Dance, the Fancy Dance for men, the Fancy Dance for women and an Intertribal Dance for all peoples. Immediately following the 1 p.m. Grand Entry, an Honor Song will pay tribute to veterans of all races, all of whom will be invited into the dance arena.

The Native Americans of the area refer to themselves as Anishnabek people--the people of the Three Fires also known as the Ottawa (Odawa), Chippewa (Ojibwa[y]) and Potawatomie (Bodewatomi). The pow wow, a family event open to attendance by all peoples, has been planned by a gathering committee representing members of the West Michigan Native community and other Native Americans living in the area, and is supported by the Bear Trail Recovery Outreach Ministry of the Stockbridge Avenue United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

"Our hope is to successfully share information and promote a better understanding of local native peoples' culture to the community at large and to introduce and continue a reconciliation and healing process for our communities," said Roger Williams, who is a member of the gathering committee.

The healing and reconciliation process makes reference to incidents as far back as the settlement of Holland as a city under the Dutch beginning in 1847. The early settlers harvested the crops planted by the Native Americans, and burned for firewood the troughs the Indians used to gather maple sap. The Native Americans eventually left the Holland area in 1849, migrating along the lakeshore to resettle in Northport on the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. They were led by the Rev. George Nelson Smith and his wife, Arvilla - the first white missionaries to the area, and by Native American leader Peyson Wolfe.

Memberto, Friday's speaker, has served within Indian communities of Michigan as a community activist and clinical social worker for more than 25 years. He has worked extensively with urban, rural and reservation Indian communities in the development of behavioral health and family services programs at the local, state and federal levels. He was appointed to the Commission on Indian Affairs in 1980, serving until 1988.

He is a Grand River Ottawa and a member of the Little River Band of Ottawa from Manistee, and served as a member of the Tribal Council. Active in the Native community, he serves as master of ceremonies at pow wows and community gatherings around the state.

Memberto received his Bachelor's degree from Ferris State University and his Master's degree from Grand Valley State University. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from 1963 to 1966.

The pow wow is co-sponsored by Hope's Office of Multicultural Life, Phelps Scholars Program and department of communication. The event precedes National American Indian Heritage Month, which is November.

In the event of rain, the pow wow will be held in the college's Maas Center. The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street; the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication is located on Columbia Avenue at 10th Street; and the Pine Grove is located in the center of the Hope campus, south of 10th Street between College and Columbia avenues.