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A Day at Indian Summer

My name is Ian Fox. I’m a freshman at UW-Madison studying food science. Normally, I don’t get into native american history and culture, but I really enjoyed my trip to Indian Summer. I went with some floormates of mine, and as soon as we arrived we got food. I got an indian taco, which had fry bread, jalapenos, sour cream, beef, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. To me it tasted a bit like a chalupa and it hit the spot!

Indian tacos made on fry bread.
Tent with ceremonial fire
At the festival, students explored different aspects of Native American culture. This tent contained a ceremonial fire that burned within.

Afterwards, we explored various crafting tents all while admiring the culture and chatting. Eventually, we ended up at the powwow, which was a site to see. I didn’t dance, but two of my friends did. Just from watching I could see the mastery of some of the dancers. When the smoke dance contest started, I was very impressed. Men and women in elegant costumes full of gems, feathers, and colors jumped around like it was easy, for minutes on end. The singer was even more impressive, coming up with short bursts of music and then stopping with one loud hit of his drum.

Vendors at the festival sold furs, jewelry and other traditional garb.
Native Americans competed in the Pow Wow Smoke Dance Contest.

I was intrigued by how he was able to make such a sound with his voice, or how any powwow singer is for that matter. On the ride home, I learned that the smoke dance is originally an Oneida tradition. While traveling back to the bus, my friends and I stopped for more frybread, this time desert style with cinnamon sugar, and some wild rice samples.

All in all my experience was good. It was a nice break, we had good weather, all my friends were there, and the Packers won. I’m from Milwaukee, and I don’t go to many festivals on the Summerfest Grounds, but this was one I’d go back to next year.

To learn more about Indian Summer, visit their website at http://www.indiansummer.org/.

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