Kemo: Dancing for Fallen Comrades

Produced by Nick Vander Puy
Reserve, Wisconsin (IndianCountryTV)

Gary Kmiecik is a Vietnam War veteran and a grass dancer. He dances every year at the Honor the Earth Pow Wow on the Lac Courte Oreilles reserve in northwestern Wisconsin. He carries an eagle feather staff to honor his comrades.

He teaches and coaches at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua. He's one of the few native instructors on staff in a district that serves many indigenous students.

Twenty years ago, during the height of the Walleye War over Ojibwa spearfishing rights, Kmiecik and several others, ran between seven reservations to sow peace and love, rather than hate and malice. 

The spiritual journey was called the Anishinaabe Solidarity Relay.  It's been run and walked every year since. This year's journey the Healing Circle Run/Walk ended July 17 at the Lac Courte Oreilles pipestone quarry.

Kmiecik recounts the first run, back in 1989, when an eagle feather on the staff was reported missing in action between Bad River and Red Cliff.

"I dance hard.  I want them (the veterans) to feel my joy. That drum and song."

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