Wild onions still sprout up in Indiana this time of year, and everyone knows that the new season is cause enough for a party. Native American Indians understand that idea deeply. “In mno wipi (the good old days), our people would get together to share the remaining stores of food from winter and hold dinners featuring the first welcome sign of spring,” says Johnny Flynn (Potawatomi), an organizer of the first Wild Onion Festival: a Native American Celebration of Spring that will take over the IUPUI Library lawn on Friday and Saturday, April 13-14.
The Festival brings Indiana’s native community together for the kinds of camaraderie that would have occurred in springs long past. And so sports and art and eating round the activities, with a bit of serious conversation thrown in.
Notable will be the first games of stickball likely played in Indiana in over a hundred years. A simpler version of lacrosse, stickball is traditionally played around a 30-foot pole, good-naturedly pitting teams of men against women, boys against men, and so on. The tournament, directed by a stickball expert from Oklahoma, will run from 12:30–2 p.m. on Friday.
Demonstrations of quillwork and beadwork, plus music and a poetry reading take place that afternoon (12:30–4 p.m.), with music and dance on Saturday (10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.). The Wild Onion banquet on Saturday evening features a hog roast and recipes using the namesake plant.
Native American Indian scholars from Indiana colleges will sit as a panel Friday from 4–6 p.m., discussing “What It Means to be Native American in Contemporary America.” That subject was also the theme of a student essay contest sponsored by the festival.
The gathering, focused on Indiana’s native tribes, the Pokagon Potawatomi, Miami of Indiana and the Wea, will no doubt attract people of many other tribal nations. The non-Indian public is welcome as well and the event is free. For more: www.freewebs.com/wildonion-iupui/.