Labor Day powwow features Sauk and Meskwaki old-time homecoming

Published in Indian Country Today in August 2010.

On September 4 and 5, Black Hawk State Historic Site, in Rock Island, Illinois, will host a celebrated powwow that first took place in 1940. Recently revived after an approximately 20-year hiatus, the Labor Day Weekend occasion has been dubbed the Sauk and Meskwaki Welcome Home Celebration and features the return to their traditional lands of peoples also known by their federally recognized names: the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, from the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, Iowa. Over the years, descendents of Black Hawk, the prominent 19th-century Sauk leader after whom the park is named, have attended the event.

“Sauk and Meskwaki people told us they were thrilled to be back here and that elders recalled wonderful memories of visiting in their youth,” said Regina Tsosie, Navajo, director of the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities. NACQC is sponsoring the powwow, along with Citizens to Preserve Black Hawk Park Foundation. “The drums will include one Sac and Fox and one Meskwaki; and in addition to intertribal dances, Sauk and Meskwaki people will share their own special dances.”

The 208-acre forested park offers hiking trails, picnic areas and a museum of Native American life. The site is also in the process of establishing a permanent powwow grounds, according to Tsosie.

The powwow’s Saturday hours are noon–4 pm and 6–8 pm; Sunday hours are noon to 5 pm, with the public welcome at 11 am each day. The grand entry is at noon both days. For information on camping, special powwow rates at a nearby motel, the park’s amenities and more, contact the site (309-788-0177;, or check out NACQC’s Facebook site.

c. Stephanie Woodard.

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