1938 INDIAN INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL HOMECOMING POW WOW
Article as appeared in the
Isabella County Times-News September 8, 1938
MT. PLEASANT –
INDIANS FROM FAR AND NEAR ATTEND HOMECOMING
Many tribes Represented At Conclave on Old Indian School Grounds
From more than a half dozen states and from a distance of approximately 400 miles, 600 Indians; braves, squaws and papooses invaded Mt. Pleasant Labor Day for an annual pow wow that is hoped will become a traditional custom in the future. There were big athletic braves, young ones hanging to mother’s skirts, there were many whose memories could reveal the struggles of their people to hold ground against the rapidly advancing white man. The oldest one present was said to be 111 years of age.
All had a specific purpose for coming here last Monday. It was to renew old acquaintances and to view the site of the old government Indian School grounds where many of the Indians had spent childhood days learning the customs of the white man. It has been four years since the institution was converted into a vocational branch for inmates of the Michigan Home and Training School but nearly 40 years ago it was it was one of the leading Indian schools in the mid-west.
Bradley T. Fowlkes, superintendent of the present institution together with Rev. Eltha Mayhew and D. W. Gabrnstak arranged for an all-day celebration for the returning Indians and judging from the tired and happy braves who piled into cars, trucks and trailers that evening after the ceremonies were over everyone had a good time.
Mr. Fowlkes, who was instrumental in sponsoring the affair, gave an address of welcome to the gathering as it first congregated in the gymnasium. A varied program was then presented for the entertainment of the crowd consisting of music from the Training School band and the harmonica orchestra. There was also singing and other speeches.
At noon a free meal was served to the visiting Indians 600 strong and from beans to ice cream all were partaken with much satisfaction. Following this a tour of the grounds was made and one could see the pointing fingers of many people denoting this or that place that undoubtedly brought back some memory of the past four decades.
A baseball game between the Bradley Indians, State Redskin Champions, and the Braves of Isabella County wound up the ceremonies for the day. Needless to say the Champions
had little trouble in scoring at this victory over the Central Michigan Braves.
One of the most interesting members of the visiting delegation here for the homecoming was Mrs. Sarah Isaac of Bradley. Mrs. Isaac wrinkled and bent was said to be 111 years old but one would never guess the fact by following her during the day of activities.
Mrs. Isaac was born in Chatham Ontario Canada in 1827 a full blooded Pottawattomie.
At present she lives with a nephew residing near Grand Rapids. Among her living relatives she boasts one grandchild and 10 great grandchildren.
In addition to the many states that were represented at the reunion Canada sent many representatives. One group of Chippewas and Pottawattomies numbering 33 came from Walpole Island Indian Reservation in Canada 202 miles distant from Mt. Pleasant. Two carloads came from the Sarnia Ontario reservation and four representatives came from Cape Croaker Canada a distance of 405 miles.
Both Rev. Mayhew and Mr. Fowlkes expressed extreme satisfaction with results of the homecoming and it was announced that it will undoubtedly become an annual Labor Day affair in the future. This year’s plans were made for the expected attendance of about 300.
TEXT UNDER PICTURES
A few pictures snapped by the Times-News photographer as 600 Indians enjoyed their first annual Labor Day homecoming at the Michigan Home & Training school formerly the Indian school.
In the upper left Rev. Elihu Mayhew (left) and Superintendent Bradley T. Fowlkes (right), have just finished “the pipe of peace” with two braves, Owen “Porcupine” Smith of Lansing with the pipe, and Elliott “Chief” Pomp of Battle Creek.
Right, shows a part of the gathering in the bleachers watching the Bradley Indian ball team defend its state laurels against the Isabella Braves.
At bottom right is Miss Marie Pelcher, of Detroit, secretary of an Indian organization in the metropolitan city, comprised of 31 Indian tribes. On her left is a friend, Mary Mullin of Lansing.
Bottom right is a portion of the lineup being served ice cream after having finished the noonday meal.
In the center is Mrs. Sarah Isaac, 111 year old Indian, who led photographers a merry chase during the day. Mrs. Isaac resented greatly the attention she received; refused aid in getting about and enjoyed herself as much as the youngest Brave present.