KESHENA (NBC 26) — A cultural celebration is back as the Menominee tribe celebrated the return of the sturgeon to their ancestral spawning grounds on the Wolf River.
This is the first time in two years this celebration has been put on due to the pandemic.
The Sturgeon Pow Wow took place on the reservation. It's meant to bring tribal members together, as many consider this their “New Year”.
"It goes back to the creation story of our tribe and it said one of the first things Menominee’s did after creation was fish for sturgeon,” said David Grignon, Menominee Nation Historic Preservation Officer.
"This is where we replenished our meat and our food to carry us through. Winters were harsh on the Menominee people, so this was a cause for celebration,” said Dennis Kenote, a tribal elder and veteran.
Lilly, 14, performed several dances at the event. She said she’s been dancing since could walk and said it meant a lot to be able to dance and honor the fish.
"Kind of disrespectful not to celebrate them [sturgeon]. Got to celebrate our cultural and traditions,” Lilly said.
She explained the traditional dances that usually take place.
"The fish dance is usually what the men do, but the men do dances that represent the fish; create moves and dance around. But then for the women, there is also a swan dance and they move around like a swan,” said Lilly.
Elders of the tribe, like Kenote, said it’s important children like Lilly get immersed in these celebrations in order to keep their history and traditions alive.
"Have to make sure our young ones continue the culture after our elders are no longer here. So this is also a learning lesson for the little ones to keep the culture going,” Kenote said.