Ateqnokew Pomoheneaw: “A walk that tells a sacred story”

Winneconne, Wisconsin (NFIC) June 2010

The Opening Ceremony for, “Ateqnokew Pomoheneaw” (A walk that tells a sacred story) was held June 1, 2010 on the southern shores of Lake Poygan just south of Winneconne, Wisconsin.     

“The Walk” as it has become known, was a 76 mile a ceremonial re-creation of the removal of the Menominee Nation, who were located in the Lake Poygan area, to the site of their present reservation in n northcentral Wisconsin and ended at the area known as “Wayka Falls” the afternoon of June 6 with a ceremony and feast. Richie Plass, Menominee, and leader/organizer of, “The Walk” says, “Our research shows that sometime between 1848 to 1852, depending on the documentation we found, the Menominee had to leave that area in respect to the Treaty. One of the leaders of this move, Chief Powekonnay, is the same Menominee name I carry. Once I had heard this story, went to the site labeled, ‘Poygan Paygrounds,’ I decided to do this walk in honor of our people who were forced to walk in the dead of the Winter.”

Plass stated that Menominee leader, Chief Waukecheon, actually began leading the removal, but he was assassinated during the move and Chief Powekonnay took over the walk. “Chief Powekonnay was the leader of our Warrior Society, a Spiritual Leader and leader of the Calumet Band of the Menominee. During Ceremony, dreams and other prayers, he was directed to a, ‘Stronghold’ on our reservation to lead our people. Today that location is identified as, ‘Wayka Falls.’ The original identification was called, ‘Powekonnay Falls.’ So, when I decided to re-create this walk, I did it for two reasons: 1) Responsibility and 2) Education.”

  The walking route ended at the area
known as “Wayka Falls” early Sunday
afternoon June 6, with a ceremony and feast.

The name Powekonnay translates to “One who changes his feathers,” or as Plass’ research has shown, “Feather changer.”

Plass went on to say that the, “Responsibility” comes from the Honor of carrying this former leader‘s name, and the, “Education” aspect is quite basic. “Up until two years ago, I had never heard this story. Once I did and started my own research, I decided to make, “The Walk” real. So much has happened with our Tribe, the state of Wisconsin and all the communities along the trek that I see this as an important part of our history to both learn and share.”

The Walk itself began on June 2nd at the same site of the Opening Ceremony.

There were around 30 people that participated at various points during the walk, including people who traveled great distances to be part of the event. They traveled an average of 14 miles a day.

Charlotte Kinepoway, one of the walk participants, said she also was glad to see the event take place.

According to the Shawano Leader she said, “I think it’s marvelous, I enjoyed it because Chief Kinepoway was one of the ones that walked all the way up here with his clan and settled in Kinepoway Settlement in West Branch,” she said. “At one point my husband and I were the last Kinepoways on the reservation, but we now have 40 members in our family. I really enjoyed the walk, and I learned a lot.”