Philanthropist John Hauberg of Rock Island was on a mission.
"He had a wide interest in Native American culture and traditions," Regina Tsosie said. "When he first started this, he invited the Meskwaki people and the Sac and Fox people, and he was very interested in (legendary warrior and leader) Black Hawk and his people."
From that start in the early 1940s, the Labor Day Weekend Pow Wow at the Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island was established, and its 71st edition takes place today and Sunday.
The event has been sponsored by several different groups since its inception, but for the past three years it has been a joint effort of the Native American Coalition of the Quad-Cities, of which Tsosie is president, and the Citizens to Preserve Black Hawk Park.
The Black Hawk site in Rock Island is the ancestral home of both the Sac (Sauk) and Fox tribe, now in Oklahoma, and the Meskwakis, now in Tama, Iowa.
Both tribes make contributions to the Pow Wow, Tsosie said. Not far from Black Hawk is the site of Saukenuk, which was the home of the Sauk and Black Hawk, a village that in 1824 was the largest community in Illinois - bigger even than Chicago, Tsosie said.
Tsosie said she hopes those who remember attending the Pow Wow decades ago will bring their children to share in the experience this weekend.
"The tradition holds for a lot of the community, not only the Native people but the non-Native people, people in their 50s and 60s who remember back in those days how their parents brought them back for the celebration," she said.
There are three grand entrances this weekend, one each at at noon today and Sunday, as well as 6 p.m. today.
Each of the separate events includes traditional dancing and what Tsosie calls "fancy dancing." Men will perform the traditional "grass dance," and the Meskwakis will do some of their customary dances as well.
"It's been in their culture for hundreds and hundreds of years," she said.
Tsosie added that the Pow Wow is a time of unity.
"It's a weekend of having fun, bringing families together, meeting new people, making friendships and sharing cultures and traditions and community," she said.