Westchester-based Native American crafts market shares look at customs

Many people have driven past the Midwest SOARRING Foundation’s cultural center without knowing it.

The facility has been located at 1 Hickory Lane, on the north side of 31st Street between Wolf and York Roads in Westchester, for the past 14 years. It is operated by the foundation, which is a Native American not-for-profit organization that works to offer assistance or work as a facilitator to the tribes regarding repatriation concerns, educate the public about various American Indian cultural issues and environmental issues, and build community among all people.

The Midwest SOARRING, which stands for Save Our Ancestors Remains & Resources Indigenous Network Group, attracted a couple hundred people to its cultural center recently with its second annual Indian Art & Craft Market.

About a dozen vendors sold a variety of products, mostly crafts and clothing, but that was only part of the offering. There were exhibitions of American Indian dancing and a teepee right in the middle of the market.

“We have a lot going on here, and I think many people are interested in what we are doing,” said Joseph Standing Bear Schranz, founder and president of the foundation.

Visitors appeared to enjoy the environment, dancing and teepee along with shopping for crafts.

“We came out to look around and maybe buy some things because we heard there was a crafts fair, but it’s really interesting seeing what they have out here,” said Terri Walters of Bensenville. “I’d love to come back out here some time.”

Schranz and his organization are all about respecting and preserving the environment. The foundation’s site has a wide variety of plant life and a small pond along with a small cultural center and plans to add a Native American recreated village for tourism and education.

“Our craft fair here is a good way for people to come and see things here and learn a little bit at the same time,” Schranz said. “We have some ceremonies here. We had a summer solstice ceremony last night. But the big pow wow is in Naperville, we get about 6,000 people for that.”

Schranz was referring to the Native American Harvest Pow Wow, which celebrates its 20th year Sept. 20-21 at the Naper Settlement, 523 Webster St.

More information about the Midwest SOARRING Foundation is available at www.midwestsoarring.org.

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