“Ēkwabet’s” 20th Birthday Party – A Celebration of St. Charles’ Cultural and Historic Heritage

On May 22, 1988, the City of St. Charles, Illinois dedicated a 15 foot tall bronze sculpture of a Potawatomi Indian to honor the area’s Native American heritage.

In May, 2008, Ēkwabet was 20 years old. A community group decided to take advantage of the sculpture’s “birthday” to celebrate and rededicate the sculpture and, again, honor the  area’s Native American heritage.

A true community project, Ēkwabet’s 20th Birthday Party Celebration was implemented by a group of 100 volunteers, and was sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Charles and its Foundation, the St. Charles Park District, the city of St. Charles, the St. Charles Public Library, Kane County, the Kane County Regional Office of Education, Community Unit School District 303 and many of the district’s elementary school PTOs, the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, the Illinois Arts Council, the Exchange Club of St. Charles and many other organizations, businesses and individuals throughout the Fox Valley area.  The St. Charles Rotary Club was responsible for getting the 1988 Potawatomi Indian sculpture project underway.

The St. Charles Public Library participated by engaging world-renowned Native American storyteller, Gayle Ross.  During the week Ms. Ross performed at the library and for the 3rd Grade Pow Wow at the Arcada Theater.  The library also invited Mr. Bellaver to speak about sculpting in general and Ēkwabet in particular.

The St. Charles Park District underwrote and participated in the Day in the Life Exhibit at Pottawatomie Park.  The Schingoethe Center (special thanks to Executive Director Meg Bero) provided Docents for the village in the park, and were also of assistance with artists for the Pop-Up Art Gallery.

Guy and Elizabeth Bellaver and a group of volunteers organized the operation of the Pop-Up Art Gallery, as well as traveling all over the Midwest for the year leading up to the event to find Native American artists.

Community Unit School District 303 (special thanks to Principal Denise Lichty) organized a 3rd Grade Pow Wow – an event that saw 900 students come into the city (one half in the morning, the other half in the afternoon) to see, hear, and learn about Native American culture and history.  They heard Ms. Ross tell her spellbinding stories at the Arcada Theater, and visited the sculpture, the village, and the Art Gallery.

And the City of St. Charles facilitated the event with a grant.

Thanks to all of the individuals and groups who made this wonderful celebration a huge success.

Rotary Club of St. Charles
St. Charles Park District
St. Charles Public Library
Kane County Regional Office of Education
Downtown St. Charles Partnership
Exchange Club of St. Charles
Foote, Meyers, Mielke, & Flowers, LLC
Bell-Graham Elementary School PTO
Illinois Arts Council
City of St. Charles

In-Kind Sponsors:
Rotary Foundation of St. Charles
MCC Technology
Colonial Cafe & Ice Cream
Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures, Aurora University
Gary Brown Design
Arcada Theater/Onesti Entertainment
Courtyard by Marriott
Super 8 Motel
Best Western Motel

Al and Maurine Patten
Mike and Betsy Penny