August 17, 2012 –
Left to right: Jim Potts, Lorrie Wahwassuck, Tim Ramirez, John Melchior, Charles Wakole, Robert Jackson and Frank Shopteese.
MAYETTA: A good crowd from the PBPN community turned out today to watch a dress rehearsal of We-Ta-Se American Legion Post #410 Color Guard members who are planning to compete in the national Color Guard contest next week at the 94th Annual American Legion Convention contest in Indianapolis.
Seven veterans have been practicing for months at the PBPN Boys & Girls Club on their lunch hours and after work. The guard will be judges on their execution of marching and maneuvering and timing, techniques of using equipment, and their professional performance and repertoire. Each performance is scheduled to last from four to six minutes and must also follow specific marching parameters that have been pre-established by the national American Legion Color Guard contest committee. The contest will be held at the Indianapolis Convention Center on August 24 and they will compete against other color guards throughout the nation.
We-Ta-Se members making the trip are Jim Potts, We-Ta-Se commander, Frank Shopteese, Robert Jackson, Charles Wishkeno, Lorrie Wahwassuck, John Melchior, and Tim Ramirez. The group has previously marched together at pow-wows, funerals, and other events during the past few years. They have been endorsed by the state of Kansas American Legion posts for the competition.
In addition, We-Ta-Se will march, along with other legionnaires, in the national convention parade that will be held on August 26 in downtown Indianapolis. Jim Potts and Frank Shopteese, who are the liaisons for the We-Ta-Se department, will also participate in convention meetings and activities the following week. At the district level, Potts serves as the Commander of the northeast Kansas American Legion district and Shopteese is a member of the district committee.
The We-Ta-Se color guard wears uniforms that are a blend of American military and traditional Potawatomi styles. They wear black pants and starch white shirts that are adorned with traditional Potawatomi ribbon work. Added touches to their uniform include the wearing of Garrison military hats, white gloves, Indian jewelry, and black military boots. As an asisde, PBPN members Marty and B Jo Gilmore made the red, white and blue Indian jewelry chokers that are part of the uniform and Jackie Mitchell helped sew the ribbon shirts that have recently been restyled.
The color guard has been in existence for 25 years and performs at many events including parades, pow-wows, and funerals. Recent notable performances were for Kansas Governor Brownback’s Inauguration ceremonies, the 150th Tribal Commemoration ceremony, a cultural celebration at the Nelson Atkins Gallery of Art, and the 67th anniversary of Iwo Jima Flag Raising in Sacaton, Ariz. In 2004 the group marched in eight different events during the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration that included three Lewis and Clark Signature Events held in Kansas City, Missouri, Leavenworth and Atchison, Kansas during the Fourth of July weekend. In addition, We-Ta-Se has performed at Kansas City Chiefs football games, Kansas City Royals basevall games and they were the primary color guard during a memorial services for Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman ever killed in combat.
For the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation they host their own veteran’s pow-wow each year which draws hundred of dancers and people from all across Indian country. In addition, as a tribute of the great respect and admiration that the Prairie Band nation has for their veterans a Veteran’s Memorial Wall was erected ub 2003 in Prairie Peoples Park which We-Ta-Se maintains and has almost 400 names listed on it.
The We-Ta-Se American Legion Post #410 is one of the oldest American Indian American Legion Posts in the United States. We-Ta-Se which means “one who is brave” in the Potawatomi language has approximately 85 tribal members. They are supported by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and have their own building on the reservation that is staffed with two full-time veterans that assists other tribal veterans in need and organizes all the post’s activities.
The Color Guard will compete in three different routines at the contest scheduled for Friday, Aug. 24 at the Indianapolis Convention Center.
Jim Potts, We-Ta-Se Commander, spoke to the crowd about the contest. The demonstration was held at the Boys & Girls Club.A soup fundraiser was held following the event and members of the auxiliary, pictured above, helped cook and serve the food. The fundraiser was held for Pfc. Joshua Peppers (Northern Cheyenne) who was recently injured in Afghanistan. Peppers’ sister, Marzha Fritzell, works as a law clerk in the PBPN Attorney’s office.
A soup fundraiser was held following the event and members of the auxiliary, pictured above, helped cook and serve the food. The fundraiser was held for Pfc. Joshua Peppers (Northern Cheyenne) who was recently injured in Afghanistan. Peppers’ sister, Marzha Fritzell, works as a law clerk in the PBPN Attorney’s office.