Indian summer in Milwaukee

The weekend of September 5 to 7, the country of Uncle Sam offers a homecoming. The Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the showcase of indigenous traditions of a New World which was only in the eyes of those who did not know it, the Europeans. It is an opportunity for the Amerindian communities to leave their reserve, and to present to the expected 60 neophytes the extent of their artisanal know-how, as well as their ancestral rites. Hugh!

Immersion in Native American culture

The name Milwaukee, in the language of the Algonquin Ojibwa people, means "a place of gathering by the waters." The city of Wisconsin borders Lake Michigan in the northeastern United States. It is quite naturally on the bank of this one, in the Henry Maier Festival Park, that the Indian Summer Festival is held, a major cultural event offered by the American Indian peoples.
During the three days of the festival, craft exhibitions, concerts and shows multiply in a family atmosphere and the general public, the goal being to present to the greatest number the indigenous culture, too long neglected, which was nevertheless that of the first inhabitants of the New Continent. A fair return of things, like the theme chosen this year, “Returning the Gifts”: giving back what we have been given, or even thanking the great Manitou for giving us the blue sky, the fire. , rivers and wind… In this idea of ​​sharing, the Amerindians invite us to discover and share their ancestral way of life. The first day of the festival, Friday 5, is part of an educational desire and is thus reserved for schoolchildren in the region until 14:30 p.m. The opening to the general public will therefore only be effective from 16 p.m. that same Friday.
Note that the cultural events of the festival are held on sites considered sacred: as such, alcohol consumption is prohibited, except around contemporary music stages.

Practical work

Many stands are held in different parts of the park. On the program: manual work, herbalism and tasting.
At the Indian Summer Marketplace, the craft market, a hundred artisans exhibit and sell their work. This is an opportunity to discover the traditional objects of the life of the Amerindians, and why not to leave with a flute, a hand-woven blanket, a pottery or, the must it seems at the moment, a jewel in turquoise. … For those who are itching for curiosity, there are also demonstrations of making moccasins or baskets, weaving, etc. You can also get your hands dirty, for a fee, since workshops for creating dream catchers or even tom-toms are open to everyone (from 5 to 35 US $, depending on the object to be made).
A little further, traditional Indian villages are reconstituted. You can visit the houses, and just after ... those of the cowboys, or rather the settlements of the settlers who originally lived near the Indians with whom they had close ties.
Another interesting stop is the Natural Path Area, where traditional herbal medicines are presented. If the method convinces you, you can leave with your little bag of miracle herbs.
On the stomach side, we also think of traditional foods. Many stalls offer buffalo or deer meat, wild rice, corn soup and all kinds of fried bread. But we are in the United States, and some things remain essential: pizzas and other hot dogs are also on the menu!

Pow wow and bonfires

Let's not forget that entertainment is a hallmark of festivals. Here too, the American Indians have their traditions.
Sport first of all. We can attend demonstrations of the game of lacrosse, a kind of ancestor of hockey. Two teams compete against each other, in a match in which lots of shots are allowed, in order to score goals using sticks equipped with a net to catch the ball. Although the stake is not sporting, there is also a powwow competition. On the occasion of these family and friendly gatherings, we sing and dance to the sound of drums, and the costumes, in the latest Indian fashion, are of particular importance: Indian costumes also evolve with the fashions. The competition, during the Grand Entry (the grand entry for dancers), aims to reward the best dancer with a tidy sum. Outside of this, the public can join in the dances.
Music always: make way for concerts! Six different stages host artists as diverse as Grammy Award winners for traditional music (Martha Redbone, Gary Small Band), the Mexico City Folk Ballet, Inuit with their throat singing, and even Litefoot, an indigenous rapper.
As a final bouquet, and in the absence of large campfires in front of which to kneel, these are fireworks that we can admire in front of the lake. They are preceded by a beautiful procession of torchlight canoes. To see Friday and Saturday evening.

Specific information

Indian Summer Festival, September 5-7, 2003.
The 5th from 16 p.m. to midnight, the 6th from noon to midnight and the 7th from 11 a.m. to 22 p.m.
At the Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For road access, see the directions on the festival website, (in English only).

Tickets on sale at the park entrance:
- Adults: US $ 10.
- Children from 6 to 12 years old, and people over 55 years old: 5 US $.

If you are already there, you can buy your tickets in advance, they will be cheaper. List of points of sale on the festival website.
The site also lists a few hotels where to stay, some of which offer special rates to the festival audience.

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