The visitor could focus entirely on the musicians. Quite distinct from one another in style, they create intensely powerful sounds fully capable of sweeping aside whatever may be on your mind at the moment. But there are many other things to see and hear. In between the dances are ceremonies honoring elders or memorializing community members. The program book (it's for sale, not given away, but don't miss it) is a fascinating document in itself, with a wealth of detail about the PowWow and its history, as well as information about Native Americans at the U-M and on local efforts to preserve the Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwa language, college admission tips, pages on AIDS and obesity, recipes, coloring activities for kids, and some worthwhile ads, including one last year for "the first ever All Nations skate jam." The action on the Crisler floor ebbs and flows, but there's something happening pretty much all the time. You can come and go at any time, but be sure to structure your visit around a Grand Entry at noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.
The 2008 Dance for Mother Earth Ann Arbor PowWow convenes in Crisler Arena on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6.
[Review published April 2008]