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Meskwaki Powwow - "where East Meets West" for the 100th time this week

August 5, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The historic 100th annual Meskwaki Powwow runs Thursday-Sunday west of Tama-Toledo at the area on the south side of the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel complex.

The theme "Where East Meets West" has long been associated with the Meskwaki Powwow held each year on the Settlement.

There are two performances each day, Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 7- 10, featuring traditional dancing which has been the mainstay of the event over the years.

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Dancers in traditional garb at the 2013 Meskwaki Powwow show their skills.
News-Herald file/John Speer

If you've never attended or have before, this promises to be a year of added excitement with the celebration of 100 years.

There's historic displays and special foods to be sampled, all at the 2014 Meskwaki Powwow.

Here's a brief history of the event from the Powwow website:

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The Annual Meskwaki Powwow originated from the traditional religious and social beliefs of the Meskwaki Tribe. Today, it is not so much a religious event, but more of a social gathering. Specifically, today's event is derived from the "Green Corn Dance" and other social events of the Tribe in their early years. The "Green Corn Dance" was an annual event that took place during the harvesting of crops.

The "Field Days" held from 1902 to 1912, lasted about a week, with dancing, games, and horse racing. It was a social gathering without a harvest.

In 1912, the Chief appointed 15 men to plan for the next year. The appointed men decided to change the name from "Field Days" to "Powwow". The first powwow was held at the present location.

Today, the Meskwaki Powwow is the only one of its kind and is held annually on the only Indian Settlement in the State of Iowa. During the four day affair, the gathered Indians celebrate and perform, in full-dress regalia, dances that have been handed down for generations.

It is the dancing that has drawn the most attention from the outside world, for it is by far the most colorful and intriguing aspect of the Powwow. It is a time of reaffirmation and hope, of worship and kinship, and, above all, a time of friendship and making new friends.



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