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Old 06-08-2009, 11:43 AM   #1
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Schemitzun Cancelled

I know some of you were wondering if this years event was still on... I just saw this on Indian Country Today.
It's too bad, this used to be a great time.

Schemitzun canceled
By Gale Courey Toensing

Story Published: Jun 8, 2009

(Story Updated: May 29, 2009 )

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. – The economic downturn has hit the biggest summer pow wow on the East Coast.

Schemitzun, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s annual Feast of Green Corn and Dance, has been canceled for the 2009 season and beyond.

The tribal nation announced the cancelation last month in letters to tribal members, employees, tribal leaders, vendors and sponsors.

“We extend our sincere gratitude to you for many years of participation and appreciation for the annual Schemitzun powwow and rodeo held here in Southeastern Connecticut. Unfortunately, due to the current recession in the U.S. economy and in conjunction with cost-saving measures already underway throughout the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the Tribal Council has determined the need to cancel and/or postpone certain activities that are not considered essential in nature,” the letter said.

The Mashantucket Pequot, federally recognized in 1983, hosted the first Schemitzun in 1991. Schemitzun is a harvest celebration and a Mashantucket Pequot tribal tradition.

By 2008, it had grown to a cross-cultural, intertribal event celebrating centuries of tradition and culture of more than 500 American Indian tribes, and attracting tens of thousands of people to southeastern Connecticut. Schemitzun grew so large it even generated an East Coast v. West Coast debate on pow wow Web sites about whether it or the huge Gathering of Nations spring pow wow in Albuquerque, N.M. , was superior.

The four-day festival usually takes place in late August at the end of the northeast region’s pow wow trail. It has been a massive event where more than 100 Native artists, artisans, regalia designers, clothiers and other vendors demonstrated and sold their crafts at the Indian Marketplace. A juried art competition awarded best of show prizes to the top artists in various categories.

At the heart of Schemitzun were the spectacular dance and drum competitions with hundreds of participants from all over the continent competing for big money prizes. The event also featured a traditional northeastern Indian village with exhibits and presentations, and bull riding – a rare sight in Connecticut. Last year’s Schemitzun featured the Michael T. Goodwin Memorial Rodeo “North America’s finest Native bull riders” competing for prizes.

The Schemitzun celebration has been canceled until further notice.

“At this time, the council has decided to cancel the 2009 Schemitzun powwow and rodeo events, and indefinitely postpone future Schemitzun events until such time as the event can be reorganized to better reflect the tribe’s mission combining cultural preservation with cost-efficiency,” the council’s letter states.

The tribal nation does intend to revive the pow wow at some point.

“We thank you for your support and understanding as we continue to make decisions in the best interest of our nation, and we look forward to once again hosting an improved version of this important cultural event in future years to come, once economic factors allow,” the council said.

Lori Potter, the nation’s manager of government and media relations, said the annual Schemitzun is an expensive event for the tribe to undertake.

“It’s been very expensive every year. I don’t have exact numbers, but very expensive. It’s one more event that we have had to host the cultural community from the tribal nations nationwide and it was a gathering held for so many years, but we just had to cut back for budgetary reasons and the economy. We don’t intend to end it forever, just for a few years till we start to see that we can host it again at the level we did before.”

Potter put to rest a rumor that has been circulating, which claimed that an Iraqi man had “purchased” Schemitzun and then decided to cancel it.

“That’s totally false. This is the first time I’ve heard that one! I’m not surprised; I’ve heard some crazy rumors in my day. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut declined to comment on what, if any, economic impact the canceled celebration would have on the local communities.

Lance Gumbs, a former Shinnecock Indian Nation board of trustees member, said the cancelation of Schemitzun is “a big disappointment” both personally and to his tribe. Gumbs has had a long association with Schemitzun as an arena director and chief judge.

“For us at Shinnecock, it’s a major disappointment because our pow wow is the week after and we always relied on the vendors and dancers who come out east on the pow wow circuit. They usually go to Mohegan, and Schemitzun and then Shinnecock. I had a number of conversations with some vendors and dancers who say it’s not worth coming east for just one or two events, and of course our prize money is nowhere near Schemitzun’s.”

Schemitzum was also an educational opportunity for many western Native people, Gumbs said.

“Schemitzun is just a wonderful, fantastic event to have that many Indian people come to the east and see some of our eastern traditions. I talked to a Lakota man who said he didn’t realize we were still dancing in the east, so it’s an educational experience for people who aren’t aware that we still maintain our culture here. Some of them aren’t aware that we still exist.”

Even the word “powwow” is eastern, Gumbs said. It derives from an Algonquin word, “pauwaus,” he said.

Not all pow wows are feeling the economic pinch, however. According to a Reuters story, the 26th Annual Gathering of Nations pow wow, which took place in Albuquerque in April attracted more than 150,000 people. The event brought between $20 and $30 million of revenue to the city during the current recession.

Additionally, artisans, craftsmen and traders at the Indian Trader’s Market sold more than $2 million in goods and services at the event. The pow wow also generated exposure for up and coming performing artists as nearly 40 musical groups and entertainers performed at the event.
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:51 PM   #2
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Awww I always had so much fun there especially camping out and the annual tradition to drive to Westerly RI to go to the Super Walmart. /cry.
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Old 06-09-2009, 11:57 AM   #3
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one of hte local stations here in CT just ran a story about the cancellation of Schemitzun and the possible impact of it not being held on the local economy.

i always had fun at Schemitzun! i hope they do bring it back at some point.
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Old 06-09-2009, 08:12 PM   #4
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Yeah, that is a shame, there really aren't that many good pow wows in CT anymore. The Conneticut River Powwow Society used to run some decent dances but they dried up long ago. I guess that pretty much leaves us the Mohegan Wigwam pow wow to look forward to.
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Old 06-09-2009, 08:22 PM   #5
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Well there's always nj ny and pa. I was actually looking forward to going this year as last year I had to work and was pissed because I heard it might be the last year they hold it.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:16 PM   #6
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there is the pow wow at the bison farm this weekend. its not a contet but possibly worthwhile to go to.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:25 PM   #7
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I was at this powwow after I got back from Afghanistan 2004...it wasn't that good IMO.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:38 AM   #8
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Schemitzun in 2004 was ok, there was room for improvement that year.
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:00 PM   #9
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I remember all those peeps getting up to talk, and then those dancers, from some islands were there and then all the giveaways, and there some specials...I saw only one inter-tribal...I left and drove back to my base after sitting there for hours waiting for the powwow to start. I remember seeing that NDN woman, from Smoke Signals... I can't remember her name now...haha...but she was selling her autograph...uh, no thanks, I don't need it.

Oh, well...I prefer powwows in the west anyways...
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:18 PM   #10
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:33 AM   #11
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there were a couple of years where they spent whole sessions on specials. i can appreciate a good special now and there through out the whole pow wow but ...... they went overboard on specials.
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ndnsoldierboy View Post
I remember all those peeps getting up to talk, and then those dancers, from some islands were there and then all the giveaways, and there some specials...I saw only one inter-tribal...I left and drove back to my base after sitting there for hours waiting for the powwow to start. I remember seeing that NDN woman, from Smoke Signals... I can't remember her name now...haha...but she was selling her autograph...uh, no thanks, I don't need it.

Oh, well...I prefer powwows in the west anyways...

I remember those dancers! I didnt buy a program that year and i got there late so i didnt know about the whole Bermuda connection thing.
They had these huge cones on thier heads, I thought it was some kind of new New England regalia Lol.

But yeah, there were too many specials, but it was till the best there was to offer in New England...
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:26 AM   #13
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one year, they did a whole bunch of specials and the like on the last day of the pow wow. for Schemitzun, sunday is when they do the awards, i had left about 5:30 and they were still doing specials. friend of mine competed that year and i think he said by the time they got to his catagory it was about 10:30 and no where done with handing out awards, he left after his catagory. i think that was the year they were going to do the hand drum competion at another location about 11 pm. don't think that happened.
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:40 AM   #14
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yeah, we actually heard about the cancellation last year but it was just a rumor then. we're planning on going to Narragansett this year.
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:18 PM   #15
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it has been rumor for some time. i went to a social back in March and one of the sponsors of that was in communication with someone on the committee. the committee was planning to have it held this year.
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Old 06-15-2009, 09:41 PM   #16
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Talk is cheap and @ times we feel we're entitled to it......Probably why its cheap? Whats interesting though is how folks don't have one iota of a clue how involved Schemitzun is......Major amount of work and planning. Unfortunately things didn't work out this year for whatever reason.......Sitting back and reading some of the comments spurred me to jump in the mix.....My suggestion to some would be until you actually do have a clue...... mind what you say cause yes you are clueless.....Folks are always ready to talk chit but don't walk it....
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:25 AM   #17
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I was only saying how much I will miss it and how I was pissed that I couldn't go last year because of work. So I hope that wasn't directed at me.
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:58 AM   #18
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Yeah, that is a shame, there really aren't that many good pow wows in CT anymore. The Conneticut River Powwow Society used to run some decent dances but they dried up long ago. I guess that pretty much leaves us the Mohegan Wigwam pow wow to look forward to.
Mohegan is only one day this year
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:56 PM   #19
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Mohegan is only one day this year
Dayum!
At least they are still able to have one even if just for one day. I bet it will still be very enjoyable, we may try to make this one as we will only have to baby wrangle for 1 day instead of 2.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:04 PM   #20
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Mohegan wigwam is always good. i usally go Saturady anyway. i may do a weekend get-away on that weekend
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