Raisin Township considers hosting Native American Pow Wow
Several members of the Leh-Nah-Weh Native American organization were present at the Raisin Township meeting on Monday night to request that the board consider allowing the group to host a Pow Wow in the township next summer.
“We’re actually looking for a permanent place to hold the Pow Wow, and we hope that we can get the support of the board and the community to host them here in Raisin Township,” said Abel Cooper, Leh-Nah-Weh president. Township sites under consideration include Mitchell Park, and the Raisin Community Center on Gady Road and surrounding grounds.
Cooper said that the group has been looking for a way to come back to the Tecumseh area, but outgrew the space previously used in Cal Zorn Park. He added that moving the Pow Wows to the Lenawee County Fair and Event Grounds became too costly, and that the group is struggling like other entities under present economic conditions.
“We’d like the opportunity to be closer to the old Native American ceremonial grounds,” said Cooper. “The mounds may not be there but the spirit of the Indian people still exists in those areas and these were ceremonial grounds as far back as the People can remember. We’ve never had a better place than Tecumseh for our Pow Wow and we’d like to bring it back and give it back to the community.”
While the public is invited to the event two days, Saturday and Sunday, Cooper said it is actually a four-day event.
“It actually starts Thursday morning at sunrise when we bring in a medicine person from the Pottawattamie nation, the original inhabitants of this area, to light a ceremonial fire for the four days and invite the spirits of our ancestors to come dance with us,” Cooper said. “On Friday, vendors, crafters, storytellers, dancers and drummers — everyone who helps put on the Pow Wow — start to arrive. On Sunday, we promise we’d leave the grounds as found.”
Discussion by the trustees included addressing questions such as liability, buffering between the event and nearby residents, and whether fireworks would be a part of the activities. Cooper said the organization obtains its own insurance, and when the Pow Wows were held in Tecumseh, nearby residents were notified and issued passes for the event. Whether or not there would be a suitable site in Raisin Township to hold fireworks is a subject that could yet be explored, and Cooper said they would work closely with Fire Chief Richard Renard, who was invited to be on their planning committee.
Leh-Nah-Weh members stated that the Pow Wow does not generate a lot of money and that any revenues help pay costs of holding the event.
“This would be like our gift to the community,” said Cooper. “It’s a family oriented event where everyone can come out and enjoy the festivities and learn more about the Native culture. There are not a lot of us left, and it’s one way we can bring the community together to learn about Native culture and history.” The group would like to dedicate next year’s event to Art Brant, a longtime Leh-Nah-Weh member who recently passed away. Brant was instrumental in implementing Indian education in the state of Michigan, noted Cooper.
“I think we should have more discussion,” said Raisin Trustee Jim Palmer. “I don’t have a problem with the idea, but I don’t feel comfortable making a decision tonight. We need to clarify some things to make sure it would be a win-win situation.”
Trustee Larry Crittenden made a motion to begin negotiations, with the township not committed to anything until a contract was signed, and the board approved the resolution.
The Raisin Township Board also gave the go-ahead to Police Chief Scott Lambka to pursue participation with a countywide records management system to work with in-car laptop computers. Lambka said he worked with Tecumseh Police Chief Troy Stern to research whether the township could do something on their own or save money.
“We just couldn’t find a better way of doing this or save any money doing it,” said Lambka. “I think if we don’t get on board initially, it’s going to cost us money down the road.” He recommended moving forward with the process of working with the county.
The board also approved a request by the Lenawee County Road Commission for water to be extended to its barn facility on Raisin Center Highway. Township attorney David Lacasse said he’d been in touch with the Road Commission’s attorney and Tecumseh City Attorney Scott Baker as a draft of a franchise agreement was fine-tuned and tightened up. The franchise is designed to be narrow, applying only to the Road Commission site, and if the property were ever to be in other hands, the agreement would be terminated.
“There’s also language in there that states this franchise cannot be used to expand water service into the township to any other property other than the Road Commission property,” said Lacasse. Even with the Raisin Township approval, the city of Tecumseh would also need to approve the franchise agreement.