Today the St. Croix have five main reservation communities- Big Sand Lake, Maple Plain, Round Lake and Danbury and Gaslyn- located in Polk, Barron, Burnett and Douglas counties of northwestern Wisconsin. Dotted with lakes, streams and forests, the St. Croix reservation lands allow the St. Croix to practice their traditional harvesting of wild rice, maple syrup, berries, fish and deer and to share their bounty with surrounding communities.
The tribe shares its culture with the larger community through two annual pow-wows. The tribe’s annual contest pow-wow is held the last weekend in June at the Mak’oode Arena at St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake. Scheduled normally for June, the contest pow-wow attracts more than 500 dancers and singers from tribes and nations across North America to compete for prize money. Pow-wow visitors can also enjoy traditional foods and purchase Native American art. All ages are welcome. For more information on the contest pow-wow, contact St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake marketing at 1-800-846-8946.
The tribe’s Annual Wild Rice Festival will be held near Danbury in August. The St. Croix tribe’s history is intimately connected to the harvest of wild rice: Nearly 600 years ago, the St. Croix Chippewa Indians arrived in the northwestern Wisconsin area after being directed to move southward from Lake Superior to the “place where there is food upon the water.” So it was that unlike other tribes whose main crop was corn, the St. Croix’s main crop was wild rice, which grew in the lakes of Wisconsin and surrounding areas. It’s this age-old connection to wild rice that the tribe commemorates with this annual festival.
The centerpiece of the Wild Rice Festival is a three-day traditional pow-wow. Drummers, singers, and dancers from tribes all around the country travel to attend the pow-wow, which typically attracts up to 2,000 visitors. This year’s pow-wow will be held on a site two miles west of Danbury on Highway 77.
Along with the traditional pow-wow, the Wild Rice Festival features craft vendor booths, Native foods and prize drawings.
For more information on the Wild Rice Festival, call Rick Benjamin at 715-349-2195, ext. 5338 or Michaela Taylor at 715-349-2195, ext. 5506.