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Traditional Menominee Pageant to be Staged July 31


Menominee Pageant

The College of the Menominee Nation’s theater department invites the public to attend a traditional Menominee Pageant in Keshena’s Woodland Bowl at sunset on Wednesday, July 31. CMN faculty member Ryan Winn directs for the fourth consecutive year, with Melinda Cook returning as stage manager.


The 2019 production is “The Legend Hiawatha,” which was adapted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 poem. The adaptation by Joe Keshena was last produced by James Frechette in 1958, with James Frechette, Jr., serving as director. Presented in mixed verse, the play tells the tragic love story of the namesake Ojibwe warrior and his Dakota lover, Minnehaha. The poem was well-known to the mid-century “tin can tourists” who decades ago flocked by motor car to the Keshena Fair to witness Menominee theatre. The 2019 staging promises to capture the ambiance of that bygone era.


Menominee Pageants are a mixture of pantomiming, live music, and dancing. This means that the show’s oration will be recorded, enhanced with sound effects, and then performed with the actors speaking their lines along with the recorded track. The original pageants also served as an exhibition of dances. As was the case in the past, all Native dancers are welcome to join the production, but should check-in with the lead dancers prior to the show.


The production is made possible through grants from the Wisconsin Art’s Board, Green Bay Packers Foundation, and American Indian College Fund, and donations from CMN, the Menominee Powwow Committee, and area businesses and individuals.


The pageant will begin at dusk, which is projected to be near 9 p.m. The Woodland Bowl venue is located on Fairgrounds Road in Keshena. The show runs around two hours, with an intermission during which food and beverages will be sold by local vendors. Professor Winn says the pageant is perfect for all ages. Admission is free, but any donations received will be used to fund next summer’s production.


The College of Menominee Nation is an accredited baccalaureate-level institution offering classes on its Keshena campus and in metropolitan Green Bay. Learning at the CMN curriculum is infused with American Indian culture. Enrollment is open to all.