OK

"The clouds are on the ground."

That was my first thought as I squinted through half-open eyes last Sunday and peered out the skylight over my head. The weather gods were to perform no miracle on this day. It was simply not meant for an outdoor meet-up. I had to begrudgingly admit to myself it was good that an official cancellation of the planned Chicago Kossacks get-together had been made the evening before.

Figs may be bashed but not easily deterred and, truth be told, the venue for the meet-up had a much stronger pull for me than it did for anyone else. It was an irresistible three-fer: Chicago Kossacks, the 60th Annual American Indian Center Powwow and a photo-op appearance by the Stanley Cup, currently in possession of my much loved Chicago Blackhawks.  No way I was missing this. I would just have to settle for two out of three.

The powwow was held in one of Cook County's many Forest Preserves, Busse Woods.  So that there would be ample parking, a scheme was arranged to ferry attendees by school bus from a large parking area about 1-1/2 miles to and from the actual powwow ground. It worked out just fine and I had fun from the get by singing "The Wheels on the Bus" song with one of the little ones who probably thought I was a little cracked.
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Even with all the evidence to the contrary, I knew the sun was up there in its place and shining bright and strong. I could feel it somehow.

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Rain gear and lots of it was the order of the day.  Umbrellas, tents, boots, jackets, hoodies, plastic bags. Whatever it takes to stay at least somewhat dry.

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At 11:00a when I arrived, the food tent was alone in drawing what could be called a "crowd." Who can resist Indian Tacos for breakfast? Fresh squeezed lemonade? Not me!
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My favorite "tent"....
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The rain had a dampening effect on everything, metaphorically and not.  The Grand Entrance was called off and only a few competitors wore their full regalia. There were some, thankfully, and the drummers, as always, provided a strong heartbeat for all.

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Everyone loved the two sister hoop dancers. They were very good and had won several championship competitions.
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world champ hoop dancer

A group of Iroquois Smoke Dancers from Ontario, Canada were special guests on Sunday. They gave off quite a unique energy and presided over a number of social dances which date back to the longhouse days for the Haudenosaunee people, or so I am told, anyway.

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It was about at this point when two cousins, Tim and Tom, who had taken a dry place next to me, started up a conversation. It began with "That purple stripe in your hair is awesome," and ended with Tim, the taller of the two, asking me to be his dance partner.  

Who am I to say no to such a kind and thoughtful invitation?  Now, I'm going to try to describe this dance.  If it seems confusing, please forgive me. I was doing my best just to keep from falling on my figgy-bottom at the time.

Women paired up on one side (how can there be a side to a circle?) and men on the other.  We moved clockwise until the women had passed under the upheld arms and linked hands of the men. Once all the pairs of women but one got thru, the caller had us dance backwards, counter-clockwise. Then forward again. This continued until the last pair of women passed under the arched arms .  It was such FUN! and I did manage to stay upright.

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Two sweeter young men than these I would never have met but for the rain. Just another of the fascinating mixture of conscious decisions and random coincidences that make up a life, or even a single day. We are planning to meet again at one our favorite spots, Montrose Point. They also invited me to attend a Kateri service at a local church. I think just might check it out.

I'm sorry I couldn't manage taking video of more than eight seconds of this high energy dance. Amazing!  If you want to see more like this I found a lengthier YouTube of a Mohawk woman performing the same dance.

Chicago Kossacks, I understand. Really, I do. I'm truly sad that our get-together didn't happen. And, honestly, this wouldn't have been the best powwow for your first. We'll just have to wait'll next year! (Um... I've heard that somewhere before.) By the way, those of you who were extolling the virtues of the Italian beef at Johnnie's - you were right! ;-)

Oh, wait just a second..... There's something important on the flip.

Standing for 45 minutes in on-and-off rain, drizzle and mizzle is not something just anybody would do.  There were about 150 of us who didn't mind the wait at all because of the prize at the end of it.

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Voila!!  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to show you this photograph.  Can you tell? Now you know what a bashed fig looks like.

judi and the Cup by Warren Perlstein

trickster put the clouds on the ground
for me to dance in
cloud spirit made me a partner to dance with
and a cup to kiss
what more could I want?

Originally posted to Chicago Kossacks on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 07:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse and Native American Netroots.

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