17th Annual ‘Honor the Mounds’ to feature RRTI

17th Annual ‘Honor the Mounds’ to feature RRTI

Native Americans are preparing once again for the 17th Annual “Honor the Mounds” gathering, to be held Saturday, Aug. 11, at Beattie Park, downtown Rockford. As always, the community is invited to this free, family-friendly day-long event.

Mac “Spotted Horse” MacVenn, of the Native American Awareness Committee, explains that it is a gathering rather than a pow-wow, as there is a difference. “A pow-wow is a social event with vendors and dancers,” he said. While these will be present at the Aug. 11 event, he added, “A gathering such as ours is meant to be more spiritual and educational as well as social.”

The ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. Since Dennis “White Bear” Dillard will not be present this year, Firekeeper Rob Miller will do the opening ceremony, assisted by Doug “Little Flaming Owl” Schandelmeier, who has assisted for several years and is now a full-fledged firekeeper.

Terry “Standing Buffalo” Reynolds, a Lakota elder, will do a Pipe Ceremony between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Between 10 and 11 a.m., a ceremony honoring veterans and active military members will be held.

The Rainbow Singers and the Sound of the Wind will be the drums for dancing. Most of the dances will be intertribal, for all people in attendance to participate.

In the afternoon, there will be a children’s gift giveaway, with toys for younger children and school supplies for the older ones.

Some Native American crafts, drum making, flint knapping and other demonstrations are also planned. Native American foods will also be available for purchase from a very limited number of Native American family vendors.

Two or three speakers will be on the schedule. Joseph “Standing Bear” Schranz will speak at noon, representing the Midwest SOARRING group. Topics will include Native American spiritual beliefs, history of the mounds in the park, and the significance of water, which this year has several different facets to be addressed, with the long-standing drought and the contamination of groundwater near the Amerock plant, with subsequent investigation by the Illinois EPA.

Historic site on the Rock River

The area now known as Beattie Park was originally the homestead of the Beattie family from 1845 through 1921. Through the years, it was used as a site for Native Americans to come and practice their rituals and ceremonial rites in the area between the current diagonal walk path and the Rock River. The Beattie sisters willed the land to the Rockford Park District with the stipulation that it be left in a natural state, preserving the mounds and trees, as the Native Americans desired it.

Archaeologists believe the mounds were constructed between 600-800 A.D. (about 1,400-1,700 years ago). Though somewhat naturally degraded over time, they still honor harmony and balance between Mother Earth and nature. The park has three types of mounds constructed by Native peoples of the Woodland Culture: conical or round, linear (long and straight) and effigy mounds (depicting an animal).These types of mounds occur in Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, eastern Iowa, Michigan and the top two tiers of counties in Illinois.

The Rock River Trail Initiative

At 2 p.m., Frank Schier, founder and coordinator of the Rock River Trail and editor and publisher of The Rock River Times, will speak about local efforts to preserve the river and its environs, while promoting responsible use of the river through tourism. An Initiative for the Trail has been established and is on public record.

The Rock River Trail Initiative is working toward making the trail a national trail similar to the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trails. Several groups throughout Illinois and Wisconsin have joined together in this effort, and more information will be forthcoming. An 18-member council has been formed representing the 11 counties on the 300-mile course of the Rock River.

Come on out to Beattie Park Aug. 11 to be entertained, informed, and to learn how you can be a part of preserving one of Rockford’s natural treasures — the Rock River.

By Susan Johnson

Copy Editor

The Rock River TimesFrom the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue