AT POW WOW
by Randy Redhawk
Reprint permission granted to all media
International Native News©
In the cool morning time, last Sunday, at the KALVIA Pow Wow [7.13 -7.14.96], held at Kalamazoo, Michigan, Native families were preparing breakfast and holding small gatherings around their campsites. Veterans as usual patrolled the area with the help of Pow Wow Security.
According to Mark Eldridge "When some of the other veterans and I went to the front of the fairgrounds, we saw two of the KALVIA Pow Wow Committee personnel talking to Dale Hyatt. They were trying to get him to leave the pow wow grounds. All the veterans as well as the people, did not want Hyatt there."
"The pow wow committee had already contacted the police. While we were waiting for the police." Eldridge had previously spoken to the Assistant U.S. District Attorney regarding people who disrupted Native events. He handed a member of the pow wow committee a copy of a 1931 Michigan State law regarding disruption and inciting a Native community (a felony in the State of Michigan) to give to the police, as well as requesting that he be permitted to speak with the police when they arrive as a spokesperson for the people. "The elders had asked me to speak to them, but I needed approval from the committee as well."
"When speaking to the police officer I not only spoke with him about the 1931 law, I also spoke with him about a 1941 law handed down by the Supreme Court on Inciting to Riot." The police, needed to know why the people at the pow wow wanted Hyatt removed and Eldridge explained, "The man in the past and still continues to insult our elders, something natives do not do." The officer told Eldridge he was "between a rock and a hard place..." because "I am not familiar with Native customs or Native Laws." Eldridge explained to the officer, "That the laws that were being quoted from 1931 to 1941 were white mans' laws, not Native laws, and we were asking him to enforce white mans' laws, not Native Laws." The officer then told Eldridge he was waiting for a supervisor. An additional four officers showed up as well as a County Park Ranger. In the mean time many people gathered behind Native trade booths where Hyatt confronted the committee and several veterans as police tried to sort the matter out.
Eldridge continued, "This went back and forth for over an hour. After speaking with the police, they asked me if he could say goodbye to his Chief." The committee as well as the veterans were not aware of any Native "chiefs" on the premises, but agreed to bring the trader Hyatt referred to, back to the unblessed area. "After saying his goodbyes to the trader, Hyatt was escorted along with his wife, off the premises."
Eldridge continued, "We drew a line today. This man has continued to show up right before our Grand Entries to disrupt our gatherings. We as veterans follow our Spiritual leaders and on this issue we the people, all of us need to stand together to stop these atrocities. We as a people have to stand together as one against anyone that continuously infringes upon our rights, religion, and traditional ways, especially when it comes to dishonoring our elders on an ongoing basis."