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April 1, 2024

Midwest SOARRING 2024 Plans

Harvest Pow Wow

Harvest Pow Wow

SOARRING again held a very successful annual Harvest Pow Wow the second weekend of October 2023 at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. There were over two thousand people that attended who listened and watched three Native American drum groups and many dancers in fine regalia. Outside the arena was filled with many vendors selling Native themed crafts.  Building two offered a stage to show films and featured Native storytelling and music as well as a large dining area. Additional vendor booths took up the remaining space which included a Birds of Prey live exhibit given by KARE.  Outside participants had the opportunity to purchase food from several different food trucks.

A group of foreign exchange high school students from many different countries enjoyed interacting with the Native American dancers and having their pictures taken at the Pow Wow. SOARRING is very proud to have given out over 50 scholarships to deserving students over the years. At this year’s Harvest Pow Wow SOARRING awarded seven scholarships, a record number.

SOARRING is now planning for the 2024 Harvest Pow with an additional new Pow Wow and Event committee. The excitement is running high for a busy year. We just learned that Marc LaRoque has announced his retirement. Marc has been SOARRING’s Harvest Pow Wow arena director for many years and has also been a key leader in California Manpower. His work helped employ Native people over a wide geographical area. Joseph expresses his deep gratitude to Marc for all the help and hard work he has given to everyone.

Runyon Preserve Cleanup

Runyon Preserve Cleanup

On March 17, 2024 SOARRING  held a Spring Equinox Ceremony at the McKee House located in Churchhill Woods Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn, Il. It was well attended event. Joseph Standing Bear led the prayers and everyone was in good spirits. A generous donor will be giving money for a new roof for the McKee House. Work will begin shortly. A new roof is the first step of the rehabilitation of the building. SOARRING plans a number of cosmetic and maintenance upgrades to the McKee House property over time. A recent SOARRING clean up of Ruyon Woods Forest Preserve in Lockport was also conducted by SOARRING volunteers.

SOARRING is excited to resume a Women’s Circle, which was put on hold during the COVID years. The Women’s Circle will meet the first Saturday of each month starting April 6 at 2pm at the Heritage Village Medicine Wheel Garden located at 249 W 2nd St, Lockport, IL 60441. The circle takes place rain or shine. Bring along your drum, rattle, or flute as we come together to honor our ancestral traditions and foster a sense of community in a sacred place.

Plans are in the works to host the showing of Native film(s) in the western suburbs and resume the Standing Bear Flea Market in the summertime.

For those that are interested in helping with the Harvest Pow Wow planning, we encourage you to attend our Harvest Pow Wow committee meeting.We look forward to working together.

In high regards,

Joseph Standing Bear Schranz

December 5, 2019

SOARRING Fall 2019 News

2019 Harvest Pow Wow

Aztec dancers Ocelotl-Cihuacoati

The weekend of September 21 and 22, 2019 marked the 25th year that Midwest SOARRING’s annual Harvest Pow Wow has been offered to the public as a celebration of Native American culture. For the last fifteen years, the Harvest Pow Wow has been held in the western suburbs of Chicago.  At the event opening Saturday, Janet Standing Bear (who passed away in November 2018) was honored with a tribute by the Aztec dancers Ocelotl-Cihuacoati. Janet served as Vice President of Operations for Midwest SOARRING for many years. She was well known for her dedication to the foundation activities, to the organization’s mission, and respected for her desire to help all people.  Her spirit will live on in the hearts of all who knew her.  A special button was designed in her honor and passed out to many at the pow wow.  On Sunday, Joseph Standing Bear awarded three Janet Standing Bear scholarships (instead of the usual one) to three students pursuing their studies, commemorating her contribution to the native community.  


Jaime Black Red Dress Project

Other pow wow highlights included a performance and talk by Laura Grizzlypaws, the only female Grizzlybear dancer in North America, and a special red dress procession led by Canadian artist Jaime Black. Jaime Black is known for her Red Dress Project which was featured as an outdoor installation at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  At the Harvest Pow Wow Jaime led a procession of dancers wearing or carrying red dresses symbolic of the missing and murdered indigenous women and children across North America. The dancers circled the arena once and exited the back gate, walking on the sidewalk of Aurora Ave, and re-entered the Naper Settlement entrance before proceeding back into the arena.  There the dancers acknowledged each other in their unity on this issue.  Both participants and pow wow attendees were emotionally moved by the heightened awareness of this topic. The purpose of the procession was to greater awareness to the general public.  Jaime Black has been one of the primary artists in North America to highlight these concerns.  

Despite the early closure on Sunday due to heavy rain, SOARRING was able to get most of the featured pow wow events completed. The turnout was amazingly good despite the weather. A special effort was made at the entry gates to learn where attendees came from, and the geographic diversity was impressive.

Film Showing: What Was Ours & Standing Rock Slide Presentation

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, on November 16, 2019 the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet and Midwest SOARRING Foundation collaborated to show the documentary film What Was Ours along with a short slideshow of SOARRING’s trip to Standing Rock, North Dakota. What Was Ours is a film that touches on the lives of three individuals from the Wind River Indian Reservation and their journey to The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. They each take this trip with hopes to bring home artifacts stored within the walls of the museum.

“Arapaho and Shoshone people have always wanted a museum on the reservation. When people hear that we ask to borrow our artifacts, they wonder why we have to ask. They’re ours.”

Standing Rock, North Dakota

— Jordan Dresser, Northern Arapaho Tribal Member

At the conclusion of the movie, Joseph Standing Bear described SOARRING’s trip to Standing Rock, North Dakota to deliver winter supplies and a heavy duty canvas tent complete with a wood burning stove.  Most people in the audience were unaware of the harsh treatment directed at the both Native Americans and their supporters at this historic event.  Joseph finished with a discussion on Native issues and their impacts on the indigenous community.

Annual 1,000 Tree Seed Planting Riverside Illinois

For the last number years SOARRING member and Riverside resident Tom Sisulak has held a 1,000 tree seed planting in Riverside, Illinois. This year the event was held at the Scout Cabin next to the Des Plaines River on November  23, 2019. Over eighty people were in attendance from a variety of different backgrounds.  Due to the large turnout over 3,000 seeds were planted this year, bringing the total planted to over 16,200 hardwood tree seeds of 25 different species in the last thirteen years.

Tom Sisulak began the program talking about the variety of seeds he had hand collected during the year. In so doing he ensures each seed is viable to produce a healthy tree.  Next, Joseph Standing Bear discussed the importance of the environment for all life on earth.  The Riverside tree arborist gave an overview of the Village of Riverside tree conservation plan and noted that Riverside is well noted for the variety of trees within the township.  Afterwards everyone gathered by the fireplace to share stories about the day’s effort.  The potluck was plentiful and delicious.  All are looking forward to repeating the tree seed planting next fall.

Interfaith Service

Joseph Standing Bear became a member of the Interfaith Committee in Lockport, IL, this fall motivated by his desire to create a better world for all people. This year an historic interfaith service was held on Nov.24, 2019 at the St. Denis Catholic Church.  Over six faith representatives were present.  Each spoke and led a prayer from their respective traditions, each echoing the sentiment that we must have respect for one another in order to create better understanding and develop a more harmonious world.  Near the end of the service, Joseph Standing Bear invited all to stand and form a circle within the church.  He led a Native American seven direction prayer, which was unknown to many.  In the days following the interfaith service, many positive testimonials about the benefits of the event continue to be received. Thus the powerful interfaith interaction continues and future events will likely occur.


Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, Members Meeting and Holiday Party

Medicine Wheel Ornament on SOARRING Christmas Tree

Every holiday season Midwest SOARRING Foundation hosts a volunteer appreciation dinner, holiday party and annual members meeting at the Pilcher Nature Center in Joliet. This year the event is scheduled for December 14, 2019. The nature center is a perfect wooded setting to enjoy fellowship and community over a delicious meal. Activities include a candlelit walk through the forest, and sharing stories while the Christmas tree is decorated with participants handmade ornaments. The event is free and open to all current SOARRING members. Memberships may be renewed at the event.  For further details see the calendar.

August 12, 2019

SOARRING Summer 2019 News

The spring has been a flurry of activity as Midwest SOARRING Foundation prepares for it’s 25th Annual Harvest Pow Wow, September 21 & 22nd, 2019 at the Naper Settlement in Naperville, IL.  Early May ushered in the annual Comcast Cares Volunteer Work Day in which Comcast employees worked alongside SOARRING members to clean up and beautify the Heritage Village, Historic Lockport Train Station (where the Midwest SOARRING Cultural Center is housed), and a section of the I & M Canal.  As always it was a positive and community building event.

Other SOARRING activities included a Spring Equinox and Summer Soltice celebration, and a pipe ceremony for the well-being of our members and the general public. Plans for a monarch butterfly garden next to the Midwest SOARRING Cultural Center are planned for the fall.

25th Annual Harvest Pow Wow – September 21 & 22, 2019

In late September the 25th anniversary of the Midwest SOARRING Foundation Harvest Pow Wow will be celebrated. All our welcome at our popular, family friendly event to experience a weekend of Native American culture, complete with dancing and drumming. This year is particularly special to us. We invite everyone to help Midwest SOARRING Foundation celebrate 25 years of achievement sharing Native American environmental and cultural concerns. During these 25 years we have hosted over fifty pow wows which educate everyone about our rich Native heritage, many who may not have known about America’s First People any other way.

Through our annual Harvest Pow Wow, which has become one of the largest in Illinois, we have united many different communities and tribes over common issues. All Native Americans have been taught how to protect and conserve Mother Earth, and to have respect and reverence for all life. Our pow wows have provided an opportunity for new artists and their work, and a platform for environmental and cultural issues. During this quarter of a century, Midwest SOARRING Foundation has saved over 2,000 acres of Illinois sacred sites. We have become a beacon for what can be achieved with good hearts and spirits.

The Harvest Pow Wow includes Native American dancing and drumming, arts and crafts and food vendors along with children’s activities, and much more. Download the flyer and schedule.

In honor of our 25th anniversary we have invited Grizzlypaws from British Columbia to perform the sacred Bear Dance. Grizzlypaws is the only female Grizzlybear dancer in North America and is breathtaking to watch.  Our other special guests include Jaime Black with The Red Dress Project, and Art Schegonnee with Opening Prayers.  We encourage everyone to bring your friends, neighbors and family. Feel free to bring lawn chairs.

Learn more about the Harvest Pow Wow at www.harvestpowwow.com

Purchase discounted tickets online until September 15, 2019.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

December 9, 2018

Midwest SOARRING Foundation 2018 News

It was a busy and productive year for Midwest SOARRING Foundation. Many events were held throughout the year for Lockport, IL.,  area youth including a summer camp with the Lockport Park District, and several educational events for area seniors, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts. Since the Midwest SOARRING Native American Cultural Center is open twice a week during the year (as well as by appointment, some Saturdays, and for special events),  stimulating educational public tours are available. Visitors can peruse several cultural and historic exhibits, and have the opportunity to shop our unique gift shop. Custom tours for your group can always be arranged by calling 708.257.4300.

MSF Native American Cultural Center, Lockport, IL.

SOARRING Talking Circles

In 2018 SOARRING rekindled a long standing tradition by offering several monthly talking circles. These are always well attended. Talking circles provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with our community over many issues of daily life as well share their spiritual concerns. For those who have not participated in a talking circle we encourage you to get involved.  No politics are discussed. Everyone has an opportunity to talk and be heard.

Following each circle there is ample opportunity for fellowship, as we enjoy a feast.  We have a tradition of each member bringing a dish to share with others.  While we do not have an oven, crock pots, casseroles, salads, and desserts are welcome.  Please bring enough to share with others. This is also a time to share each other’s favorite recipes.  Check our calendar for upcoming monthly talking circles.

Comcast Cares Volunteer Work Day– April 21, 2018

For the sixth year in a row, Comcast employees generously donated their time and energy to work along side Midwest SOARRING members and volunteers in the Heritage Village, IM Waterway Canal, and the Lockport Historic Train Station where the Midwest SOARRING Cultural Center is located.  Attendance at the event included over fifty volunteers,  which was a record for SOARRING.

Comcast Cares Employee and Joseph Standing Bear

Some worked to clean the IM Waterway Canal picking up trash. Others spruced up the building interiors and cleared invasive weeds in the Heritage Pioneer Village. Another crew planted and mulched the SOARRING medicine garden.  Many Comcast employees and SOARRING members weeded and mulched the entire historic Lockport train station area and planted additional flowers where the Midwest SOARRING Cultural Center is located.  The City of Lockport received a $60,000 grant to beautify the historic Lockport station, which included plantings of a variety of perennial flowers and placement of limestone boulders adjacent to the station.  The results were impressive.

Midwest SOARRING Foundation 24th Annual Harvest Pow Wow

The 24th Annual Harvest Pow Wow held at the Naper Settlement in downtown Naperville,  on September 22 and 23rd. It was SOARRING’s  largest pow wow which offered  the most varied experiences to date of Native Culture.  Activities and offerings encompassed supervised archery with target for everyone, our most popular children’s corner, a special canoe exhibit with authentic scaled down birch bark canoe models, a live horse and birds of prey exhibit that included the Deska, The American Bald Eagle, hawks and owls.  The event hosted over 40 vendors with the largest assortment of food vendors;  the most SOARRING has hosted at our pow wows.  Award winning Al Jewer played native flute while Mark Cleveland performed and sang with his guitar.  The Aztec dancers, Ocelotll-Cihuacoatl initiated a sacred ceremony with dance and drum. In the evening, acclaimed guest musicians, Hugo Gutierrez and Wayco entertained the audience with riveting music from the Andes, complete with guitar, charango, percussion, wind instruments and vocals. At each the Grand Opening, Midwest SOARRING honored many veterans with valor medals for their service to our country.  The 2018 Janet Sevilla Scholarship was awarded to a young nursing student from the White Earth Reservation in MN. And, Midwest SOARRING unveiled its colorful new tipi. It was a popular location for everyone to take selfies and photos.

We were blessed with exceptional weather the entire weekend. Everyone that attended was smiling and enjoying every aspect the Harvest Pow Wow had to offer.  An annual crowd favorite is the colorful dancing and drumming in the arena.  Our announcer educated the public about Native American concerns regarding water, and spoke about the value of horses to Indigenous culture.

Our entire organization is deeply indebted to Janet Sevilla, Vice President of Midwest SOARRING, who through her dedication and devotion to SOARRING made this 24th Harvest Pow Wow , along with the help of many volunteers, our most successful to date.

Ron Kanutski Social Drum Circle & Traditional Teachings

In late October, cultural educator Ron Kanuski, tribal member of the Lake Helen Reserve/Red Rock Band (Obijiwanong), traveled to Chicago area from Canada to sing, drum and share traditional teachings from the Ashinabe Native culture.   He spoke and sang from his heart. Everyone enjoyed hearing his life experiences. Ron brought with him a knowledgeable guest from Thunder Bay. Over the two days attendees had an opportunity to ask questions and relate informally to Ron and his guest.

SOARRING Holiday Markets

On two Saturdays in December, Dec. 1st and Dec. 15th, two holiday markets were hosted at the SOARRING Cultural Center in Lockport, Il. These holiday markets feature Native themed vendors who give shoppers an opportunity to purchase unique Christmas presents for loved ones. It is also an informal time to visit the center and share a cup of hot chocolate with SOARRING members.

Ojibwey Birchbark Baskets

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner & Annual Holiday Party and Members Meeting

Saturday, December 8th, 2018,  Joseph Standing Bear Schrantz welcomed everyone to the holiday celebration and annual members meeting. He summarized the 2018 SOARRING events and the exciting plans for 2019. The festivities began with our customary candlelit spirit walk in the woods followed by a delicious feast. Traditionally members bring homemade side dishes to share. It has also been a long standing tradition for each member to craft an ornament to place on our Christmas tree while telling a story of what ornament means in their life. This sharing includes a wide range of emotions—from sadness to happiness. This tree stays decorated until the end of the season as a visual and cultural gift to the Pilcher Nature Center in Joliet, IL. Holiday gifts were also brought to share with those in need.  Our raffle winner spontaneously donated their prize money back to Midwest SOARRING Foundation.

Call for Talented Volunteers for 2019

If you have special gifts or abilities and would like to volunteer your energy and time, please call our director Joseph Standing Bear Schrantz at 708. 257.4300.

December 21, 2017

Midwest SOARRING Fall 2017 News

Annual Harvest Pow Wow –September 24 and 25, 2017

The 23rd Annual Harvest Pow Wow thrived amid the exceptionally hot September weekend temperature which soared to the high 90’s.  Many agreed it was the best Harvest Pow Wow sponsored by Midwest SOARRING Foundation in recent years held at the Naper Settlement.  Both Saturday and Sunday’s schedule included a large array of Native American dancers dressed in full regalia and dancing to the drum beat of Milwaukee Bucks, Little Thunder with the Medicine Bear Singers, and Red Line.

Grand Entry

The audience filled the arena seating three times over the course of the weekend to watch the dramatic Grand Entry led by Veterans carrying the flags, followed by long line of colorful dancers. City of Naperville, Mayor Chirico greeted the audience and helped hand out medals to Veterans.

Throughout the weekend event, both the MC and dancers encouraged onlookers to join in the arena dancing. A crowd pleaser for all was the potato dance where participants balance a potato between their foreheads and step in rhythm with the music. The last couple to keep the potato balanced between their foreheads, without using their hands wins.  Later Polynesian dancing and Aztec drumming and dance performances honored Mother Earth.  A children’s dance featured a quick scramble for candy in the arena circle. Interspersed throughout the day was colorful exhibition dancing  that included the the group Snake Dance, Jingle Dress, Fancy War , Grass Dancing, Fancy Shawl, Traditional Dancing, and other specialty dances.

Jingle Dancers

A new and popular attraction this year was a supervised archery range for children, busy with eager participants both Saturday and Sunday. Exclusive to the Harvest Pow Wow was Apache the Mustang, who was present for families to pet and observe. Flintknapping (making an arrowhead) and Native themed arts and crafts activities as annual activities were family favorites. Imaginations were kindled with visits to the large red Tipi complete with authentic Native American implements and designs. Finally, S.O.A.R., (Save Our American Raptors and Deshka the American Bald Eagle) entertained families with close encounters with Raptor birds.

Special guest and Native American actor William Strongheart represented the non-profit organization CANA at the Harvest Pow Wow. CANA rescues wild horse family groups and places them on Native American tribal lands. Strongheart mingled with pow wow attendees, spoke about his work with CANA, and signed the drum which was auctioned off. Other non profit organizations in attendance included the Nature Conservancy and the Utah Wilderness Alliance.  The Nature Conservancy provided educational information regarding their conservation effort in the Midwest, which encompasses their own Bison herd as well as maps and directions to visit other bison herds in Illinois. The Utah Wilderness Alliance seeks to educate the public about the importance of protecting two wild Utah wilderness areas that include Bear Ears and Escalante Staircase National Monuments. Bear Ears encompasses over 10,000 ancient Native American sites and Escalante Staircase contains historic dinosaur bones important for archaeological study.

Polynesian Dancer swallowing fire

Every year a unique shopping opportunity awaited Pow Wow visitors. Over thirty-five Native American themed vendors offered beautiful hand crafted pottery, jewelry, regalia, music, clothing, herbal salves and lotions and music. Families sat in the shade and feasted on Indian Tacos and hand squeezed lemonade, among other treats. In keeping with the inclusive spirit of the Pow Wow, new friendships were kindled. Pepsico, one of the Harvest Pow Wow sponsors, provided welcome refreshments of chips and cold drinks for all.

Plans are underway for the 24th Annual Harvest Pow Wow to be held September 23 and 24, 2018 at the Naper Settlement in Naperville. Midwest SOARRING Foundation looks forward to everyone participating in one of the most well- known pow wows in the state of Illinois. Scout groups, history lovers, veterans, families and the public are all welcome.

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Aanii Boozhoo

Midwest SOARRING Foundation invites all people to gather into an ever-increasing wider circle that preserves Mother Earth, and the rich traditions of the ancestors. We invite you to learn about the many intertribal Native American lifeways that provide wisdom and direction in our contemporary world. In keeping with this path, Midwest SOARRING Foundation works to maintain the traditions of the ancestors and to conserve and restore to health the natural environment.

We invite you to join our circle. Dance at our pow wows. Attend our cultural events and support the bison herd-our nation's greatest herbivore and symbol of hope and survival for all people. As you listen, you will learn. Together we become the Spirit of the ancestors.

Joseph Standing Bear Schranz

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