beadwork, Oneida

Revitalizing Native American Culture Through Oneida Beadwork Classes

Native Americans have a long history of traditionally using beadwork as part of their regalia. Regalia is a Native American term to describe the ceremonial clothes and accessories that Native Americans wear for ceremonies and for dancing at Pow Wows. In the beginning, Native Americans used natural materials like seeds and seashells to adorn their regalia. When trade began with the colonists, Native Americans incorporated mass produced seed beads of vibrant rainbow colors. The tradition of beadwork has grown over time and even evolved into Fine Arts where Native American Artists have taken beadwork to a whole new level. There is a movement for Native Americans returning to traditional art forms like beadwork to bring healing, restore Native American identity, and overcome negative social issues such as alcoholism, depression, and suicide.

Oneida Dancers (Photo: White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)

The Oneida Tribe is traditionally known as the Onyota’a:ka Nation meaning People of the Standing Stone. The Oneida Nation is part of the famous Iroquois Confederacy whose democratic form of government is what the United States government is based on. The entire Oneida Nation originally was located on the eastern coast in New York and were neighbors to the Mohican Tribe. When the colonists washed along the shore, the Oneidas were the first tribes to greet them. However, the Oneidas reached a breaking point when the high influx of even more colonists arrived forcing many Oneidas off their traditional lands. There was a torn split among the Oneida Nation with one part of the tribe staying in New York and the other half of the Oneida traveling to west of Green Bay in Wisconsin. As it grew harder and harder to locate jobs on the Wisconsin Oneida reservation, the majority of the Oneidas there left their reservations and sought out major cities looking for employment. There are so many Native Americans in Milwaukee that it is the largest population of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River. Of the Milwaukee Native Americans a large percentage are Oneidas. So the South East OneidaTribal Office was formed to connect the large Milwaukee Oneida community to the Oneida Tribe on the reservation to better meet the needs of its Oneida citizens in the city.

Through Oneida Director Mark Powless the Oneida South East Tribal Services 5233 W. Morgan Avenue Milwaukee WI 53220 offers Oneida language, cultural, spiritual classes and classes like the Oneida beadwork. Through the entire month of March on Wednesdays at 5:30 PM-8PM for $35 covers all the supplies you need to make a beaded Native American Cuff in the Oneida style including beads, needles, threads, velvet, patterns, and expert beading instructors. One Elder named Judith Tromel who came to the beading class to share bonding time with her daughter said โ€œI just started beading. I normally do all sorts of crafts like crocheting.โ€ There is still time to learn Oneida Beadwork so come join Judith and the other beaders please stop by.


Responses to the March 18 Press Release that Indian Summer Festival Will No Longer Be at Summerfest

On March 18, 2019 Indian Summer Festival Inc. Board President James Warren announced in a press realease that Indian Summer Festival will no longer be at Summerfest.

Indian Summer Festival at Summerfest 2018. (Photo:White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)


Why Was This Never Reported Before March 18?

A recurring question raised by many in the Milwaukee Indian Community in social media and in a March 19, 2019 survey at:

How did you respond to hearing the official statement from the Indian Summer Festival Inc. Board of Directors on March 18, 2019 that the Indian Summer Festival would no longer be held at Summerfest?
Indian Summer Festival Survey March 19, 2019

There is no evidence that the Indian Summer Festival Inc Board ever contacted the Milwaukee Indian Community, the Milwaukee Indian Organizations, and the 12 Wisconsin Tribes to let them know that Indian Summer Festival Inc was in a financial crisis, they needed emergency funding, or was even considering thinking about leaving Summerfest before March 18, 2019.


Indian Summer Festival Leaving Summerfest Will Hurt the Milwaukee Indian Community.

Based on the March 19, 2019 survey 63.16% believe that Indian Summer Festival leaving Summerfest hurts the Milwaukee Indian Community.

How Much Is Needed Financially?

Need est. $500,000 to have Indian Summer Festival at Summerfest in 2019.

Indian Summer Festival Inc March 20, 2018 report by Candid formerly known as Guidestar based on information submitted by Indian Summer Festival Inc to the IRS.

According to a Candid report formerly known as Guidestar Foundation in a 9 page report on what Indian Summer Festival Inc filed with the IRS was that Indian Summer Festival in 2017 had only $239,700 Revenue from Indian Summer Festival Inc. and yet $416,290 Expenses showing a -$176,590 loss.

So based on this report that Indian Summer Festival Inc, the Board known for 2 years about the financial crisis meaning they had 2 years to inform and reach out to the Milwaukee Indian Community and 12 Wisconsin Tribes to alert about the financial crisis and ask for help. This financially was not just some problem that suddenly emerged out of nowhere this year in March 2019.

Based on reviewing the entire 9 page report the estimate needed to run the Indian Summer Festival at Summerfest is about $500,000.

Request to Reach Out to the Potwatomi Casino and Bingo

Ojibwe Artist Adina Cain from Milwaukee states on the Indian Summer Festival Inc Facebook Page.

There were several responses in the March 19, 2019 survey also requesting to reach out to Potawatomi Bingo and Casino for financial help.

Request to Reach Out to the 12 Wisconsin Tribes for Financial Help.

Request for Community Crowdsourcing Campaign.

Many members of the Milwaukee Indian Community expressed that the Indian Summer Festival, Inc was so important to them and their families. Many requested creating a GoFundMe campaign so that the Milwaukee Indian Community wanted to use their personal money to give back to Indian Summer Festival Inc.

The Milwaukee Indian Community is speaking out and many are asking for Indian Summer Festival Inc to please keep Indian Summer Festival at Summerfest that a petition was created at

Petition to Keep Indian Summer Festival at Summerfest


28th Annual Winter Pow Wow

The 2019 Pow Wow has officially kicked off the Pow Wow season in Wisconsin with the 28th Annual Pow Wow hosted by Indian Summer Festivals, Inc. This Native American social gathering was held at the State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin. This particular Pow Wow included Native American dancing dressed in full regalia as well as offering many Intertribal Dances where everybody in the audience regardless of race or whether wearing ordinary clothes could come on down and dance right alongside the Native Americans dressed in regalia. In addition there was a dance contest featuring the best non-native dancers wearing ordinary clothes direct from the audience. The Best Dancer was determined by the Dancer with the most applauses. Doing this welcomes all races into celebrating by bringing a positive sense of community. This is a Traditional Pow Wow, Oneida South Eastern Tribal Services offered a special Smoke Dance Contest for $1,000.

Unlike most Pow Wows, there were many other events included this weekend. Sunday March 10, 2019 offered free admission to the Pow Wow for everyone who attended the 10 am Prayer Service. The Prayer Service included drumming by the Congregation of the Great Spirit, as well as singing from their Ojibwe Singers Choir. Prayers were led by Father Ed Cook. A traditional water blessing with spring water and cedar to honor the coming of Spring was shared with all attendees.. After the Prayer Service, the audience was serenaded by an Ojibwe Folk Singer Tom Denny.

Aztec Dancer. Sunday March 10, 2019. Winter Pow Wow. State Fair Park. West Allis, Wisconsin (Photo: White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)

One of the highlights of the Pow Wow was the featuring dancing of young Aztec Dancers.

Aztec Dancer. Sunday March 10, 2019. Winter Pow Wow. State Fair Park. West Allis, Wisconsin (Photo: White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)

Also, there were food with plenty of food vendors serving Indian Fry Bread Tacos. Plenty of native vendors selling a wide range of beadwork, music, books, crafts, t-shirts and so much more!

Indian Fry Bread Taco. Sunday March 10, 2019. Winter Pow Wow. State Fair Park. West Allis, Wisconsin (Photo: White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)

Ms. C. Scheuerell Ojibwe from Milwaukee, Wisconsin a former Patient Care Assistant of the Veterans Hospital said, “I had a great time at this Winter Pow Wow! I can’t dance like I used to due to my physical limitations, but it was great to see all my friends again. Chi Miigwetch!”

Yes it is now Pow Wow season!


No More Stolen Sisters


All across this United States, referred by Native Americans as Turtle Island, an epidemic of Native American Women are disappearing at an alarming rate. According to Hawaiian Therapist Lea Denny there are over 5,100 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in this country. One major problem is that currently Native American Tribes have no jurisdiction to prosecute non Native Americans who rape and murder Native American Women on reservations. This is preventing Tribal Police and Tribal Courts from being able to protect their Tribal members. The subject is so dire that Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin invited Founder of the Healing Intergenerational Roots HIR Health Center Lea Denny to be a Speaker about the severity of this crisis, but also to talk about Trauma Informed Healing which is a culturally appropriate way to foster healing of Native American communities. Organized by the Marquette University Native American Student Association President Alex Liberato and the Intercultural Engagement Center hosted the No More Stolen Sisters Luncheon on March 1, 2019 in the Alumni Memorial Union from 12 pm โ€“ 2 pm.

Intercultural Engagement Luncheons at Marquette University is a series of guest lectures on important topics for the Milwaukee community who can share a free lunch and learn about pressing issues like MMIW. (Photo: White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)


What can be done to face this growing problem? This is where Lea Dennyโ€™s work steps in. Through her HIR Health Center where they offer Native Americans individual, groups, and family therapy that is both culturally appropriate and Trauma Informed Care. The Trauma Informed Care Movement is being led by Saint A an over 164 year old progressive social services agency in Milwaukee which Lea Denny is also part of the Trauma Informed Care Movement. With Trauma Informed Care Leaders like Lea Denny and partnering with Saint A both are working on addressing the MMIW crisis by moving to make the entire Milwaukee community into a National Leader in the Trauma Informed Care. Through Dr Bruce Perry a National Trauma Doctor that works on a National Level with Trauma and partner with Saint A, Dr Perry points to Lea Denny as a Milwaukee Leader in working on a community level using Trauma Informed Healing on both the individual and local level.


One major way Lea recommends to help address MMIW is by participating in community events that bring awareness. One such event that is coming up is the

National Awareness Day of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on May 5, 2019.

Milwaukee and all across the country Native American Women are encouraged to wear a red dress to show their solidarity with addressing MMIW. There will be MMIW speakers and events such as walks to bring the often overlooked MMIW issue to the forefront and in the mediaโ€™s attention. Take part of the healing process and participate in a MMIW event in your area.

MMIW Event at Marquette University in the Alumni Memorial Union working in small groups exploring through Mind Maps how the tragic MMIW issue is not just a present problem, but a past problem for the last 500 years which directly affects the future. (Photo: White Turtle Rainbow/Wenona Gardner)