Monday, December 21, 2009

The Pictures on the Wall

Our casino has added some old pictures from an era long since past of tribal members. They are attached to the pillars in the gaming area. I think it’s great and the casino people should be commended for this positive action. With the pictures on the front entrance and now these on the inside of the casino this puts our casino up there with the best. Prior to this, I thought Soaring Eagle Casino in Michigan and the Meskwaki Casino in Iowa had done the best job of showing and displaying some of their traditional values.

We have to recognize and remember the old people who stayed here on the reservation through thick and thin. It wasn’t always great here. It is now late December of 2009 and we are bracing for more bad weather with ice and snow in the immediate forecast, but we have more resources to fall back on now. This was not true for some of these people in these pictures. We can make a fast trip into town to get our supplies whereas a long time ago bad weather made that doubly hard. My Aunt Jane said back then, they had to stock up on items when they did get to town, in case an emergency came up or bad weather. If our electricity goes off, we can go to the hotel or some of the tribal buildings that are now equipped with generators, but in the old days they had to have a pile of wood to keep warm. Today we have suitable housing and jobs close to home. The people in these pictures had to travel many miles to work or move away entirely.

Some of the pictures show our traditional dress style and it is great and the beadwork is also tremendous. Some of the pictures came from private collections of tribal members who saw the value of sharing. The Potawatomi would go dance at rodeos, pow-wows and at our old fairgrounds. Somebody understood the value of preserving a great moment in time.

During the Depression and War years, traders passed through the reservation and the old people being poor as the day was long would sell some of their prized possessions, such as beaded vests and dresses, to get by or to purchase needed supplies. I’m sure some were victims of exploitation too. That’s why a person can see some of these items in museums and in personal collections. Those are lost, but it is a chance to copy the beadwork patterns by looking at these pictures and duplicate them. So all is not lost!

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