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Friday, October 23, 2009

Crystal Shawanda, Ojibwe country singer, to perform Oct. 24 at Rozsa

HOUGHTON -- Crystal Shawanda, a full-blooded Ojibwe, has taken the Country Music world by storm! The Rozsa Center is proud to present the 2009 Canadian Country Music Association’s "Female Artist of the Year" at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, in what is sure to be one of the hottest concerts of this show season!

Crystal Shawanda, Native American country singer, will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, in the Rozsa Center. (Photo and text courtesy Rozsa Center)

Born in Ontario, Canada, Crystal grew up on a Native American reservation called Wikwemikong on Canada's Manitoulin Island. She wrote her first song at age 9 and cites Loretta Lynn as her childhood hero.

"I'm Native American," Crystal says. "We're automatically country -- joined to the land and the real stories of everyday people. A long time ago, we traditionally used music as our daily prayer and as our way of giving thanks. To Native Americans, music is our everything. It's our storytelling, our history and our dance. We use it to remember and to forget. It's how we celebrate life and mourn death."

Crystal's father was a truck driver whose route regularly led him from Michigan to Nashville. Accompanying him on many of the trips, she was 11 when she made her first visit to Nashville and watched singers and musicians through the window at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

"I was scared I would be told I wasn't good enough," Crystal notes. "By 12, I had written enough songs to do my own little demo album which I sold back home to pay for more trips to Nashville. Country music had become my full time way of relating to my world. If I couldn't write and sing, I couldn't talk and feel."

At 13, Crystal made her first appearance at Tootsie's and received encouragement from a drummer who had worked in Loretta Lynn's band. She kept returning to Nashville, singing regularly at Tootsie's, and finally moved to Nashville to concentrate on her music. Dawn of a New Day, released in 2008 on RCA, debuted at #2 on the Canadian Country Album chart and at #16 on Billboard’s Top Country Album chart.

Shawanda has been touring in Canada and the United States with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley as a special guest on the Paisley Party 2009 tour. She had previously toured with various artists across Canada and the northern United States in 2008. As of January 2009, three singles have charted: "You Can Let Go," "What Do I Have to Do" and "My Roots Are Showing." The first reached #5 in Canada and #21 in the U.S., while "What Do I Have to Do" also reached #5 in Canada, but wasn't released in the United States. "My Roots Are Showing" peaked at #12 in Canada, as well as #57 on the U.S. charts. The title track and "Try" were then released as the fourth and fifth singles from the album in Canada only. In mid-2009, Shawanda was moved to Sony Music Canada.

On Sept. 13, 2009, the Canadian Country Music Association awarded Crystal Shawanda the prestigious "Female Artist of the Year" award.

Crystal Shawanda's visit is sponsored by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan Tech American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), Multicultural Affairs, Michigan Tech Student Life and the James and Margaret Black Endowment.

Ticket prices for the general public are $25 and $20; Michigan Tech student prices are $20 and $15 (MTU student ID required). To purchase tickets contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487-3200, The Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487-2073, Tech Express (MUB) at 487-3308 or go online at No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.

Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson to visit Houghton Oct. 25

Jocelyn Benson, Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, addresses Houghton County Democrats on June 3, 2009, during a visit announcing her candidacy. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HOUGHTON – The U.P. spoke up during the last election. It appears Lansing has taken notice. Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic front runner for Michigan Secretary of State, returns to Houghton for a visit from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, in the Super 8 Motel's conference room. The gathering is open to the general public.

Benson, who threw her hat into the ring Oct. 10, is a leading election law expert in the State of Michigan. She is a nationally recognized educator and voter advocate who has promised to focus on promoting access to the voting process while protecting its integrity.

"I am first and foremost dedicated to ensuring that our elections are fair, accurate, accessible, secure, and that the public can trust the results of the election," Benson said.

A $5 minimum donation per person is required to attend the potluck style meet and greet.

Editor's Note: Read more about Jocelyn Benson in our June 12, 2009, article on her visit last June.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Native American Speakers' Forum Oct. 23 and Powwow Oct. 24 to be at Michigan Tech

By Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Tech senior writer

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech will showcase Native American culture at its 14th Annual Speakers' Forum Friday, Oct. 23, followed by the Spirit of the Harvest Powwow on Saturday, Oct. 24.

In addition, the 2009 Canadian Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, Crystal Shawanda, will give a concert at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, in the Rozsa Center.

Speakers' Forum, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23

The Speakers' Forum begins at 10 a.m. in the Rozsa Center with a talk by Jessica Koski, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC). She completed a BS in Social Sciences in May and is now earning a master's in environmental management at Yale University. Koski will discuss how she navigated college as a Native student.

Jessica Koski, Michigan Tech graduate, addresses a large crowd at Eagle Rock near Big Bay, Mich., during the Protect the Earth event on Aug. 2, 2009. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

Lowery Begay, a dazzling championship hoop dancer, will perform from 11 a.m. to noon. Begay grew up on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona and spent much of his time with his grandparents learning Navajo ways, which are now both his calling and his career.

Lowery has traveled all over the world and is a flutist, artist and fancy dancer, and is currently ranked fourth in the world as a hoop dancer.

Lowery Begay, renowned Navajo hoop dancer, performs during Michigan Tech's 2007 Spirit of the Harvest Speakers' Forum in the Rozsa Center. He returns to perform again at both the Speakers' Forum Oct. 23 and the Spirit of the Harvest Powwow Oct. 24. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Crystal Shawanda, a Canadian country music singer and member of the First Nations Ojibwe band, will give a talk beginning at 1 p.m. Born in Ontario and raised on a reservation on Manitoulin Island, Shawanda has taken the country music world by storm. Her hit single, "You Can Let Go Now," made it into the top 20 on the Billboard Country Music chart.

Shawanda will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, in the Rozsa Center. (See separate article.)

Spirit of the Harvest Powwow, noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24

The Spirit of the Harvest Powwow begins at noon with a grand entry into the Multipurpose Room at Michigan Tech's Student Development Complex.

Featured performers will be Lawrence Williams, head male dancer; Linda Cohen, head female dancer; Robert Voakes, head youth male; Jade Chauder, head youth female; Robert Rajacic, arena director; Four Thunders, host drum; Loon Travelers, invited drums; Donald Chosa, head veteran; the KBIC Honor Guard; and master of ceremonies Stanley Spruce.

Championship dancer Lowery Begay will give a hoop dance and flute exhibition at 1:30 p.m. Begay contributed art used on the powwow posters, and T-shirts with his artwork will be for sale at the powwow.

The pink shawl presentation will be held at 4:30 p.m.

Native food, art and crafts will be available.

The Spirit of the Harvest Powwow and Speakers' Forum are free and open to the public and hosted by Michigan Tech and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Sponsors include Michigan College/University Partnership, Multicultural Affairs, Student Life, and Institutional Diversity.

For more information, contact Lori Muhlig at 906-487-2920 or at

Editor's Notes: Text of this article courtesy Marcia Goodrich of Tech Today. Reprinted with permission.
* Read more about Jessica Koski in our Aug. 8, 2009, article on the Walk to Eagle Rock.

Finlandia to present "Women of Niskavuori" Oct. 22-25

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University fall play, Women of Niskavuori (or Niskavuoren Naiset), directed by Melvin Kangas, will be performed Oct. 22 to 25 at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening performances (Oct. 22, 23 and 24) begin at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee, Oct. 25, begins at 2:30 p.m.

The play was written in 1936 by Hella Wuolijoki. It is a well-known Finnish play and since the year 2000 has been staged over 40 times in Finland.

Hella Wuolijoki, author of Women of Niskavuori (or Niskavuoren Naiset), Finlandia's fall play, directed by Melvin Kangas. It will be presented Oct. 22-25 in the Finnish American Heritage Center. (Photo courtesy Oren Tikkanen)

The play’s story is one of power, complicated love relations and conflict between the traditional and the modern. Set against the background of the Niskavuori family estate, the play is the first of several plays that follow the events of the Niskavuori family.

Pasi Lautala says, "thanks to Melvin Kangas and crew, [this play] will be performed for the first time in English (at least that we know of)."

It is a brand-new translation and production of the 1936 Finnish play, according to Oren Tikkanen.

"Hella Wuolijoki, 1886-1954, was one of the most colorful personalities in 20th-century Finland," Tikkanen says. "She was a powerful and wealthy woman who headed up successful lumber and petroleum businesses on the one hand and wrote left-wing plays on the other."

Tikkanen points out other contradictions in Wuolijoki's life, which is the subject of a new biographical film, Hella W, currently in production in Finland, with a release date of 2011.

"She was Estonian by birth, but was a passionate Finn," Tikkanen notes. "Her hard-headed capitalism brought her riches, but she turned her swank apartment and country estate into meeting-places for revolutionaries. She was tried for treason because of contact with a Soviet spy -- reportedly to start peace talks -- and was condemned to death, but her sentence was commuted, and by 1946 she was elected to Parliament. Later, she was named as the director of Finnish Broadcasting; and, although she was committed to the working class, she banned Hiski Salomaa's workingman's song, 'Lännen Lokari,' from the radio."

Tickets are $5 per person (free for Finlandia students with I.D.) and may be purchased at the door prior to the performances. For additional information, please contact Melvin Kangas at 906-487-7250.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Community Arts Center to host OctoberFest dance Oct. 24

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock will present their fifth annual OctoberFest from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the South Range Community Hall. Music will be by the Polka Kings and the Swing Cats.

Come out for OctoberFest dinner and dancing! Brats, hotdogs, harvest soup and brew from the Keweenaw Brewing Company will be available for purchase. There will also be a silent art auction, bake sale, a 50/50 raffle and lots of dancing! Make a night of it and bring all of your family and friends. Admission is only $5. Call the Community Arts Center at 482-2333 for more information.

Diwali Night to offer Indian cuisine, entertainment Oct. 23

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Indian Students Association (ISA) will celebrate Diwali Night, the Festival of Lights, with a dinner of Indian cuisine from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, in the MUB Commons and Ballrooom, followed by a Cultural Spectacle from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Rozsa Center. The performance will include skits, drama, music and dance.

For both dinner and performance, tickets are $18 General Admission, $15 for Students and free for children under 8. Performance only tickets are $8 General Admission. Call 906-487-3200 or go to to purchase tickets. Tickets may also be purchased on campus at the Rozsa Center, Tech Express, the Memorial Union Commons, the Memorial Union Corner Store and the SDC.

Diwali is the biggest festival in India, celebrated with great rejoicing as it marks the victory of good over evil.

For more information, go to the ISA website:

Tech Theatre Company presents "The Bald Soprano" and "The Lesson" Oct. 22-24

HOUGHTON -- Two groundbreaking one-act plays by Eugene Ionesco, "The Bald Soprano" and "The Lesson," will be performed this week by the Tech Theatre Company in the McArdle Theatre. The performances will be at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 22 through 24. The Tech Theatre Company is composed of faculty, staff and students of the visual and performing arts department, and for this performance will be directed by assistant professor Patricia Helsel.

Tickets are available at the door only and are $10 for the general public and $5 for student. As part of the Experience Tech program, admission is free for Michigan Tech students.

Helsel says her students find the two Ionesco plays as utterly gripping and edgy as she did in her own college days, and they have enthusiastically enjoyed designing and preparing this production. The designers are advanced students in Tech's bachelor's degree programs in technical theatre and audio production, while the cast includes student actors trained in Tech's acting classes and prior productions.

"My students' enthusiasm proved to me the timelessness of Ionesco and was my inspiration to mount this production," Helsel says. "I've also been profoundly moved by the ability of the plays to evoke such a complex emotional response from the audience."

"The Bald Soprano," a hilarious look at communication in daily life, and "The Lesson," a tragicomic view of communication between a teacher and a student -- or any authority figure and any innocent person -- were pioneering plays in the "theatre of the absurd." The plays "tantalize with colorful and musical language in a circular plot full of contradictions, ironies and comical constructs," Helsel says, even as their meaning is easy to grasp. Pictures of the production can be seen on the web at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Preschool Family Fun Day to be Saturday, Oct. 24

HOUGHTON -- A Preschool Family Fun Day of games, entertainment and family photos will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Houghton High School Multi-Purpose Room.

The event will also include a concession stand with a variety of food and refreshments.

The Entrance Fee is $5 Per Child, $10 for 2 or more. The Family Fun Day is sponsored by Friends of the Tree House, a Keweenaw Family Resource Center (KFRC) Indoor Playground. For more information call KFRC at 906-482-9363 or visit

Monday, October 19, 2009

Updated: Local health care reform advocates to tell Congress "It's Time to Deliver" Oct. 20

HOUGHTON -- On Tuesday Oct. 20, Michigan doctors, nurses, seniors, students, community activists and union members will gather at various events, house parties, hospitals and other places of work to call their Representatives and Senators as part of an unprecedented national day of action. Thousands of events are taking place across the country Tuesday to make sure Congress knows it must deliver health care reform that makes quality care affordable for America’s families and businesses.

Among the events scheduled in Michigan, two are in the local area of the Upper Peninsula.

Copper Country residents can attend a talk on Health Care Reform between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the home of Barbara and Suzanne McLean, 41599 Halfmoon Beach Road in Chassell. Barbara traveled to Finland to study their health care system, and Suzanne had surgery in Scotland.* They will also be calling legislators.

In the Marquette area, a "Time to Deliver" call party will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Messiah Lutheran Church, 305 W. Magnetic St, Marquette.

If you have questions about the events, call Valerie Pryzwara of MichUHCAN (Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network) at 734-812-0664.

Update: You can call the Capitol switchboard toll-free and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representative to leave them a message on health care reform: 1-800-828-0498; or you can contact Congressman Bart Stupak's office directly at (202) 225 4735, Sen. Carl Levin at (202) 224-6221 and Sen. Debbie Stabenow at (202) 224-4822.

*Editor's Note: Barbara McLean participated in a panel discussion and spoke about Finland's health care system at the Health Care Forum, "Finding Solutions to the Health Care Crisis," held last summer at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) in Houghton. See our July 7 article about the Forum.

Marquette County Road Commission to meet on Kennecott's road proposal Oct. 19

MARQUETTE -- The Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Monday, Oct. 19, in the Ishpeming Township Hall (note location change). The MCRC will either vote to accept Kennecott Minerals Company's Proposed South Road plan for their proposed Eagle Project sulfide mine or defer the decision until a later meeting.

At a public hearing held Sept 28, a group of 20 citizens voiced their concerns about the proposed route and urged the commission to postpone their decision until Kennecott 1) amends their mining permit and 2) obtains all of the necessary permits to do their mining business.*

This massive road project is expected to do the following:
  • degrade and destroy the wilderness highlands of Michigamme Township
  • displace wildlife
  • open thousands of acres to intensive logging, sulfide mining and other development
  • threaten the ecological health of sensitive wetlands, streams and rivers.
Citizens opposed to the road project can take action by attending the meeting Monday night or, if unable to attend, can call MCRC, Jim Iwaniki, today, Monday, and voice their concerns: 906-475-4491 Ext. 200.

*See a map of the road and draft minutes of the Sept. 28 meeting on

Michigan Ballot Initiative moves forward

Michigan Save Our Water Committee has officially announced the submission of a ballot initiative petition that calls for tougher laws to protect the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers and the rest of the environment from contamination caused by some types of mining.

Read an overview explaining the Ballot Initiative on

See the Oct. 18, 2009, article, "Mining initiative foes, backers set for long battle," in the Marquette Mining Journal.

Visit for more updates on the sulfide mining issue.

KLT to sponsor Wetland Ecology outing Oct. 24 at Marsin Center

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) will sponsor an outing on Wetland Ecology and Restoration from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Marsin Preserve and Nature Retreat Center, near Oskar.

Join Michigan Tech wetland ecologist Rod Chimner to explore the mysteries of northern white cedar swamps in KLT's Marsin Preserve. Also learn about the planned shoreline wetland restoration project at KLT's Marsin Nature Retreat Center. Wear rubber boots as the cedar swamp will be wet. Meet at the Marsin Preserve trailhead. For more information about Marsin Preserve and directions, go to: and click on Directions.

To reserve a place or to obtain information about the outing, e-mail:

For more information about KLT, visit their Web site at

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Calumet United Methodist Church to hold breakfast bazaar Oct. 24

CALUMET -- A breakfast bazaar featuring a variety of luscious breakfast casseroles will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Calumet United Methodist Church.

The casserole menu includes tasty favorites such as broccoli and cheese, southwestern and warm apple.

Tickets are $6. The breakfast also includes fruit, juices, breads, coffee and other beverages. In addition, the United Methodist Women are holding a bake sale; crafts and white elephants will also be available for purchase.

Everyone is welcome. The church is located on the corner of Church Street and U.S. 41 in Calumet.