Native American Culture Celebrated at National Cherry Festival - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Native American Culture Celebrated at National Cherry Festival

Posted: Updated:

Music, dancers and the Native American culture took center stage today at the National Cherry Festival.

The cold, wet weather didn't stop people from coming to today's Heritage Day event.

There were about 100 Native American dancers who performed and hundreds of people who came to show their support.

"I think there's a pride in the area to know that we have such a rich and diverse presence."

Step by step the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians danced at the 23rd National Cherry Festival Heritage Day.

"We're calling our ancestors in there to dance with us so there's a lot of good feelings that going on through the day," explains traditional dancer Hank Bailey.

Tribal Council member Mark Wilson says, "it's good to emphasize that we are still here and this is not a reenactment. Our celebration is a time for festival goers to come and maybe through an intertribal dance to enter our circle of life as well."

Hank has been performing in the show from more than 15 years as a men's traditional dancer.

"It always just warms my heart because you meet a lot of people that haven't seen most all of the year, I get to renew some friendships and make new friendships."

And every piece of his regalia represents a little bit of history.

"This is a breach cloth here. I have various things, connections because I spoke about my grand father. He raised 12 children and they did it with teams of horses so I have these parts on here for my connection to my grandfather, so I always have him with me."

And there were a variety of dances from the men's traditional dance to the women's jingle dress.

"We hope people walk away with a sense of diversity. We hope that they take a piece of our culture with them and practice it within their way of life," says Mark. 

During the event, veterans and those still fighting overseas were also recognized.