Indian Summer – in every sense

Hello!  Sorry for the delay (no one reads this except spammers, and I still feel obliged to apologize – Midwestern, much?).  What did I do last weekend? It had it’s ups and downs for sure.  Including a highly questionable live music act at Frank’s Power Plant near my house. That link does not come close to representing the true scope of the sketch. A dive bar habitue I am not. And the music was deafening.  Anyway.

Saturday – I got up late (because I expended the wakeful years of my twenties in the bars and cornfields of rural Nebraska, and need at least 8 hours of sleep every night now) at around 9.  Yes, that’s late. I was supposed to meet some team members for a brewery tour here, but spent far too much time watching cartoons and working on a craft project. (What? I’m only in my twenties for like ten more months. I can do crafts if I feel like it!). When I finally did get ready to go, and let Leo out – the fool did what he’s been trying to do for the last month – run hell for leather after a squirrel. And refuse to come back.  By the time he did come back, I was already 10 minutes past the start time of the tour.  Fail. Baddog.

A re-enactment of an actual case. Leo appears to be mocking me, and carefully staying out of reach

So, I packed up my thoroughly grouchy, overdressed for the weather, self and got in the car.  As I was driving away, I remembered that the Indian Summer Festival was happening at the summer fest grounds!  The most transformative part of my twenties was spent in the three years I lived, and taught on the Rosebud Reservation at He Dog Elementary School.  One of the many aspects of  my education at that time was loving the Lakota culture that my students and their families live and walk within every day. In the last three years, I have collectively spent about 12 days on the Rez, which is shameful – I am contemplating a return visit next month, now that I am only a day’s drive away.

The Indian Summer Festival was really interesting, since it was primarily a showcase of WI Indian cultures – Oneida, Menominee, Ho Chunk, Pottawatomie, and  Mohican nations, though clearly attended by many others. I have a clear memory of being interviewed for my job by Deb Boyd, and Patrice Burnett, who asked me – “what work have you done with the native communities in Wisconsin?” To which I replied (as to so many of their questions), with a confused smile…um, none…I am still amazed that they hired me. Though we had gone through all of the obligatory “westward expansion” units in school, and I even took a course in college around indigenous law, none of it stuck with me.  So, it was as if I was attending this festival as a total outsider.  It was awesome.

I stayed for eight hours.  I ate a brat wrapped in frybread.  I watched some amazing dancing. I reconnected with an old friend from SoDak days. I sat by the lake for a long time and thought about the long road that brought me to this moment, and how much of it has been driven by chance, coincidence, luck, and – a little grace.

Here is my photo essay. I am so grateful for this experience, the amazing weather, and the memories that don’t fade.

My swag. Sage, barrettes, and the map and schedule for the day. There are two barrettes, but I was wearing one.

The artisan was kind enough to let me take a picture without making a purchase.


Less than 200 years ago, the area now known as Bay View was a large trading center with a diverse native population base. The region was also home to more than 250 effigy mounds, since destroyed to make room for cornfields. This is where I sat to think about the arc of my life.

Female Oneida Dancers

Female Oneida Dancers

Oneida Dancers











Traditional regalia, tipi, and...iphone (not clearly pictured). Yet more evidence that this world is a deeply strange place.

Kiddos enjoying the only real "ride" in the place.

Peruvian musicians, as seen from the skyride.










Grand Entry/Retiring the Colors/Many Eagle Staffs


Photographing amazingly skilled fancy dancers, in rapidly fading light, with my worse -for-wear cheap camera is somewhat less than successful.


The last shot before it got too dark, and i decide to just enjoy watching.


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