When the prize money is more than $90,000, the rush to Potawatomi Bingo Casino, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the Hunting Moon Pow Wow is going to be held this October 19 to 21, is understandable.
“What drives most people to the pow wow is the prize money, a well organized event, good drums and dancers,” said Kimberly Skenandore Goodrich, coordinator of the pow wow. It is free parking and easy to get in, she added.
This will be the 8th Annual Hunting Moon Pow Wow of the Forest County Potawatomi (Keeper of Fire). It will be held on the third floor of the newly renovated Expo Center of the Bingo Casino.
“This rich cultural event will feature dancing and drumming contests, as well as craft vendors and authentic Native American food. This is a competition pow wow, which means that participants have the chance to win cash prizes as we give away $90,000!” said the pow wow website.
“We get people from all over—from Canada, California, New York, Florida, Carolinas, Quebec, Ontario—and a lot from this area,” said Goodrich.
Last year, she said they had 550 registered dancers and 18 drum groups and singers signups. This October, she expects over 550 dancers—dancers can continue to register until 1 p.m., Saturday of the pow wow—and 20 already signed up for the drum category.
The door opens on Friday, October 19, at 3 p.m. and 10 a.m. during the weekend. Grand Entries are held daily.
More prizes are in store for dancers this fall. Goodrich said Tribal Chairman Gus Frank is increasing the pay out for a special competition and donating an additional $1,500 to the Men’s Woodland Style (ages 13 and older).
“We are paying the top six places, not the top three places,” said Goodrich. The first place in the special category gets $1,500; second place, $1,000; third place, $800; fourth place, $600; and first and sixth place are $400 and $200, respectively.
Another dance competition that is special this year is the “Old Time” Women’s Scrub for ages 13 and older. A total of $3,000 will be divided among the first and fourth place winners, with the top winner taking home $1,200.
The other dance competitions include Tiny Tots (5 and under) and Men’s Traditional, Grass and Fancy, for Golden Age 50+ (combined), Senior Men, 36-49, Adult, 18-35, Teens, 13-17 and Junior Boys, 6-12.
For the Women’s Traditional, Jingle and Fancy, contestants can compete in category age groups as the men.
Goodrich said that for the Saturday or Sunday evening breaks the committee is looking to include a hoop dancer exhibition.
Heading the staff this year is Host Drum, Midnite Express (multiple tribal affiliation); Head Veteran Dancer, John Anwash, Forest County Potawatomi; Masters of Ceremonies, Joey Besaw, Menominee, and Artley Skenandore, Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin; Arena Director, Ron Goodeagle, Sac & Fox; Head Dance Judge, Joe Young, Prairie Band Potawatomi and Head Drum Judge, Gary Besaw, Menominee.
There are about 40 different craft vendors that sell anything from jackets, t-shirts, artwork, jewelry, pottery, paintings and Native American food. Goodrich said non-American food is also served at the food court.
Unlike other pow wows, there will be no storytelling. “We try to keep it on track as far as competition goes,” she said, adding that they don’t want guest to stay too late as the venue has a closing time.
While the name of the pow wow starts with the word “hunting,” visitors may be hard pressed to find a hunting knife.
“When the first annual pow wow was held it was in early November. It was that time of the year to go hunting for the winter and make sure you have enough food to last you for the season,” said Goodrich.
Over the years, she said, there has been conflict with the date with tribal elections and other tribal events so the date has been moved up but the name of the pow wow remained the same. “Technically, it is not held during the hunting season. It is held three weeks earlier.”