2019 Harvest Pow Wow
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.
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.”
— 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.
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
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.