Shawano Leader - June 7, 2010
Historic walk comes to close
By Nathan Falk, Leader Reporter
WAYKA FALLS — A walk that truly told a sacred story came to a close Sunday on the Menominee Reservation.
“The Walk” as it has become known, was 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. Led by Richie Plass, he said the 76-mile walk was done for several reasons — education and responsibility.
“We prayed along the way, did special offerings along the way, and learned along the way — it was good,” Plass said.
The walk is also known as “Ateqnohkew Pemohneaw,” which translates to a walk that tells a sacred story. The walking route ended at the area known as “Wayka Falls” early Sunday afternoon with a ceremony and feast.
The story of the process and walk is one that is very important to Menominee and Wisconsin history.
“Up until two and-a-half years ago, I never knew about the removal of the Menominee from Lake Poygan to the present site of our reservation,” he said.
Once Plass found out that one of the leaders of this historic walk had the same name he carries, Powekonnay, he felt it was his responsibility to acknowledge, honor and carry on this important part of Menominee history.
The name Powekonnay translates to “One who changes his feathers,” or as Plass’ research has shown, “Feather changer.” The original walk was let by one of the Menominee chiefs, Chief Waukechoen. But after a few days out, he was assassinated, and Chief Powekonnay took over.
“Now that we’re here, this part of the walk is done... but I really think, after talking to some people now, something else is going to happen,” Plass said. “We need to continue to learn our history.”
Charlotte Kinepoway, one of the walk participants, said she also was glad to see the event take place.
“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 with all these men and women.”
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 Wednesday through Sunday, and camped overnight at predetermined locations.
“There was a lot of support, it was great,” Plass said. “The closing ceremony was, I think, a correct spiritual closing for what we did. A lot of good words were said, we’ll have a nice meal, and can rest.”