June 30th Established As A New Holiday for LCO
By Joe Morey
A new LCO holiday was adopted by the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) on Monday, May 23, after hearing a presentation by Richard “Bonzo” Denomie. The new holiday will be held annually on June 30th and called “We’enh Day” to recognize and celebrate the impact of a We’enh (namesake) on children in our community.
Denomie came before the TGB and explained he had been hosting an annual picnic bringing together namesakes and the children they are to guide and assist.
One definition of what the namesake does explains “Every child who gets an Ojibwe name has namesakes, sometimes as many as six or eight of them. Throughout a child's life, his or her namesakes function a little like godparents, giving advice and help.”
Denomie said he had been holding an annual picnic for years and it has consistently grown and that’s why he came before the TGB to propose that June 30 be made a tribal holiday.
“It started out of a sense of pride and honor and community that I began holding the picnics so that our people could get to know each other on a deeper level,” Denomie stated. “This day has transformed and grew into a smaller version of the vision I see it becoming. For two years I have been calling We’enh Day. On this day we celebrate the impact of namesakes. It’s for all who wish to connect with their namesakes in a way they don’t throughout the year because of the western customs that have invaded our lives.”
Denomie said although his picnic celebrates the namesake relationships, it is also for all members of the community. He said the celebration involves games where the children answer questions about the reservation and who representatives to council are and school royalty, etc. They also have the children and namesakes answer questions about each other.
“The idea is to strengthen the bond between these important people the same way mothers and fathers do on their special days,” Denomie explained.
LCO TGB member Michelle Beaudin made the motion to make We’enh day an annual holiday for Lac Courte Oreilles to be held on June 30th. Her motion was seconded by Glenda Barber and it was passed unanimously.
In his request, Denomie said costs have also increased which he had financially supported himself, and was asking for the TGB to support the event. Costs included prizes and fireworks. Denomie told the TGB he had already raised $5,000 in donations and asked for $8,000 or a match. TGB member Gary “Little Guy” Clause, seconded by Tweed Shuman, proposed donating the full $8,000 and it was passed unanimously.
The event will be held in the Bacon Square community with a full picnic, prizes, games and concluded with a fireworks show.