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Mahnomen hosts powwow at centennial

The sound of beating drums echoed throughout downtown Mahnomen Saturday.

The sound of beating drums echoed throughout downtown Mahnomen Saturday. A Native American dance exhibition was part of the town's centennial celebration.

The drums provided the first circle of a powwow, emcee Dennis Hisgun explained to those watching.

There are four circles involved - the drum, the singers around the drum, the dancers and the crowd circled around them.

Hisgun provided information for those who had not been to a powwow.

"We believe song and dance is very sacred and pleasing in the eye of the creator," he said.


He also explained the regalia and the types of dances.

Esther Goodman, 15, performed in a jingle dress.

"Some people believe that the jingle dresses are medicine dresses," Goodman said.

As the traditional songs and resounded, Hisgun told the story behind the dress and how it is said a medicine man dreamed of the healing dress.

Hisgun said the jingle is also like the rain.

"It's a very soothing sound to us," Hisgun said.

Goodman said she has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She learned from her mother and aunt.

"At first I didn't really know what to do, but later I got better at jingle dress," she said.


Two drum groups provided the songs - the North Twin singers and the Little Red Tail singers.

There were several inter-tribal dances, and those watching the exhibition were encouraged to join in.

For 13-year-old Lera Hephner, traditional dancing is something that started very early.

"My mom took me to a powwow when I was 11 months old," she said about when she first started dancing.

Along with jingle dress, Hephner also does the traditional and fancy shawl dances. She said she learned more about the dances by watching other people at powwows.

"It's real spiritual," Hephner said. "It's a way to get together and have fun."

Carol and Steve Zalusky ventured to the exhibition after the centennial parade.

The couple now lives in River Falls, Wis., but both graduated from Mahnomen High School in 1964.


"We haven't been back for 20 years, so we decided it was time," Carol Zalusky said.

They still remember when the town celebrated its golden anniversary. They were 9 years old.

While the yearbook was forgotten at home, the couple said they were still able to identify most of the people they saw at the all-school reunion on Friday.

"It's almost like you haven't been gone," Steve Zalusky said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Barbara Raus at (701) 235-7311

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