As the crisp air of autumn overtook the landscape, it was time again for the Brothertown Annual Homecoming. The homecoming is a celebration of tribal and family identity, professed every year since before the start of the 20th century.
This year's theme of “Water Awareness" was by far the most important topic of recent gatherings. It included a sponsored Water Walk around Lake Winnebago a few weeks prior. With the knowledge that our certain demise is imminent if it isn't respected properly, this year's theme was a reverent appreciation of the bountiful gift we all have in the Great Lakes region. This also allowed for discussions on how to keep what we have as well as to help guide the goals that need to be achieved in the future.
To make sure the spirits were properly addressed, the combined color guards of the Brothertown veterans and the Mohican veterans assembled and carried the Eagle Staffs and flags of the two tribes and armed services. Under the solid sounds of “Gee Tae Sae," the Williams' family drum and singers worked as a well-oiled machine, understanding protocols and requirements for honor songs and related duties. I would recommend them for weddings, funerals or any other event where a well-run Big Drum is needed. Gordon Williams Sr. and his wife, Pattie, are truly good-good people.
The day had a jam-packed agenda that included newly enrolled introduction, “Water Walk Honorees" and social dance demonstrations by tribal member Roger Straw. As a craft activity throughout the year, the Brothertown members have assembled shakers. Women wear them upon their legs when participating in the social dances. This equipment and dance instruction was a gift from the Oklahoma Delaware when they attended the national gathering of Lenape, Delaware, Brothertown, and Mohican in 2015 on the Mohican Nation Reserve. Roger Straw sang and led the Duck Dance, he also undertook learning the Bean Dance and hopes of the Raccoon and Hide or Skin dance are in the future.
Brothertown members worked hard to make this event a success and the true show of community was everyone eating and visiting. I was lucky to attend and see relatives and friends once again bonded to a common cause — the celebration of tribal identity.
With the colors properly retired and the traveling song done, the crowd began to slip out. After a day of friendship, camaraderie and tribal pride, this gathering called the Brothertown Annual Homecoming wound down.
More importantly, we must understand our personal sovereignty over our own identities; we are Indian and so we must forward this pride to our children and grandchildren.
Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.