The Brighton Reservation celebrated Indian Day with several events throughout the week. Festivities began Sept. 21 with a fishing tournament for community members. Tribal members of all ages woke up at the crack of dawn to cast their lines in hopes of catching the biggest fish. There were several categories including the biggest catfish, garfish, bass and the total weight of speck and bream. All fishermen met at the Brighton 4-H barn at 1 p.m. to weigh out.
On Sept. 26, the Health Department organized a 5K race. Later that day, the Community Culture Center hosted a clothing contest. Children, adults and seniors, adorned in patchwork dresses with capes, jackets, vests and turbans, walked the stage modeling their finest traditional outfits.
Brighton’s main event was held Sept. 27, with many of the same traditional games and activities as the other communities.
Tribal members piled into cars and headed to Tucker Ridge to participate in the popular canoe race. Several teams of one man and one woman participated with many spectators to cheer them on.
Only one canoe sunk this year; however, a few still veered off course.
“That’s our identity. By doing these types of (traditional) activities during Indian Day, it keeps it real, it keeps it live,” said Norman Bowers, Chairman’s assistant. “Some of these girls growing up, they probably really didn’t know how to cook frybread or pumpkin bread, but over the years since we have been implementing these types of contests, you could actually tell they have gotten more experience. That goes for the wood carving and stuff (too). It helps us keep our culture and at the same time, it brings everybody together.”
To end the long day of friendly competitions, youth and seniors participated in turtle races. Each participant turned a turtle on its back in the middle of the circle. To start the races, the turtles were turned right side up and whichever turtle crossed outside the circle first won. Hoping not to scare the turtles, youth quietly watched as some turtles stayed still and some crawled outside the circle.