Tradition passes down at 100th Meskwaki Powwow

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT – For a culture that honors its tradition and history, reaching 100 years of the Meskwaki Powwow Thursday was a big milestone.

“Making it to 100 years is a big achievement,” said Johnathan Buffalo, historical preservation director of the Meskwaki Nation (Sac and Fox tribe).

The four-day powwow started Thursday with traditional dancing, food, music and more to a crowd of more than 500 people.

Sean Keahna Jr., 25, was one of the dancers in native regalia.

“I’ve been doing this since I can remember,” Keahna said.

He said it’s important for him to honor his ancestors by keeping traditions such as the powwow alive.

“A lot of cultures nowadays, they die out and you just read about them in books,” Keahna said. “We are showing ours here. We have a lot of culture.”

Thursday was children’s day at the festival with dozens of children of all ages dressed up in regalia who danced to open the event, including 6-year-old Harry Kapayou.

“I like dancing in front of people,” Kapayou said.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, could not make the event but sent a staff member to read a statement from him at the event.

Braley said the Meskwaki Nation is responsible for cultural and economic vibrance in the state.

“Iowa would not be the state it is today without the heritage and contributions of the Meskwaki Nation,” Braley said in the statement.

The powwow continues through Sunday with dance and music performance times at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily. Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, plans to read a message from Gov. Terry Branstad at 7 p.m. Saturday at the event. Summer flooding has moved the event from the traditional powwow grounds to the arena behind the Meskwaki Casino.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children over 5 and children under 5 free.