Brett Larson Staff Writer
The Mille Lacs Indian Museum took its Memorial Day tradition a step further this year, adding an American Indian music fest to the Amvets Powwow, art market and the film festival.
Site Manager Travis Zimmerman said he’s been expanding offerings to fill up the weekend with events, and this year it paid off in good attendance and a strong mix of talent.
“For the first time putting all these events together, it went seamlessly with no issues or problems,” Travis said. “Everyone had a good time, and the weather cooperated.”
Travis focused on bringing a local angle to each event. The music festival kicked off with Pete Gahbow and Arlyn Sam playing drum songs and Max Blake playing the flute.
Also on the bill were rapper Thomas X from Red Lake, who shared moving memories of the Red Lake shooting, and folk- singer Annie Humphrey of Leech Lake, who was joined by her grandson, who accompanied her with a hand drum.
Travis said Dawn Day’s frybread, which was sold during the event, was an added draw, especially for local Band members.
The film festival was also well received. Travis attempted to highlight stories from different reservations, but he wanted to start out with another local connection: a film on sugarbushing produced by Nay Ah Shing students. The “executive director,” Sophie LaDue, came to the festival and talked about the film.
The festival also included “Reclaiming sacred tobacco,” “Coyote Way,” “Waabooz,” “Awake, A Dream from Standing
Rock,” and animated films by Jonathan Thunder of Red Lake. The artists at the Art Market, which ran throughout the weekend, included Pat Kruse, Josef Reiter, Cynthia Holmes, Denise Lajimodiere, Marlene Fairbanks and Tawny Druar.
“It was a really nice turnout,” said Travis, who has been with the Museum for nine years — making him one of the longest-serving site managers. “Last year we had mixed results, but we raised more money this year and had an anonymous donation that helped us to promote it.”
The music festival was sponsored by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends Indian Committee and Mille Lacs Energy Community Trust. The film festival was sponsored by the Harriet Thwing Holden Fund for American Indian History.