Indian Summer Festival Inc

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Indian Summer Festivals Inc is the host organization for both the Indian Summer Festival in June and the Indian Summer Winter Powwow in March. It is a non-profit organization who’s daily operations from its very beginning are made up of a 22 volunteer board and executive committee, and during the festival hundreds of volunteers. As an all-volunteer organization, we are indebted to the help of our volunteers and friends. We are also indebted to our founders who carried the dream into reality.

The Indian Summer Festival was the brainchild of a Milwaukee Police Officer and came into being through the hard work of 10-15 people who formed the first Board in 1985. In the summer of 1985, then Milwaukee Police Officer Lawrence “Butch” Roberts , Oneida, was assigned to work at the ethnic festivals at the Henry Maier Festival Park (Summerfest Grounds). His experience was very positive and he decided that having a similar festival so that others could better understand the American Indian cultures would be of benefit to both the native and non-native communities.

Throughout the years, many talented native performing artists have entertained the festival goers— Redbone, Douglas Spotted Eagle, Williams and Ree, Buddy Big Mountain, Buffy Saint Marie, Brule, Martha Redbone, and Indigenous to name a few.

Traditional cultures of natives in the Americas have and remain an integral part of the festival. The pow wow, traditional villages, crafters, artists, dancing and singing and cultural demonstrators of the festival show the pride, resilience, and beauty of our native ways. Throughout the years the fest has featured Hoop dancers, Mexican Pole Dancers, Aleut Throat Singers, flutist, storytellers, craftspeople and of course the styles of pow pow dancing. Lacrosse, the prayer ceremony, Indian tacos, fry bread and wild rice along with merchandise vendors and fireworks complete the list.

Throughout the 30 years, the goal of Indian Summer Festival has remained to preserve and promote the history of the American Indian, to celebrate the diversity that exists within many tribal cultures and to create a greater communication and understanding between Indian and non-Indian. We are committed to presenting our history and culture in a positive and entertaining way.

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