Fond du Lac Reservation Veterans Pow-wow draws thousands from across US

By KBJR News 1

July 12, 2014 Updated Jul 12, 2014 at 11:05 PM CDT

Sawyer, MN (NNCNOW.com) - If the flags are raised, and if the drums are beating, then Chuck Smith must be ready.

"We honor them with songs, we honor them with gifts," said Smith, during the ceremony. "I'm a Vietnam veteran. I am proud of my service. American Indians are patriotic."

As the Director of the Fond du Lac Reservation Veteran's Pow–wow, it is Chuck's duty to make sure every veteran feels accepted.

"It takes a collaborative effort from everyone on the reservation," said Smith.

Smith says it's a day to say thank you--every branch, every service--for your service.

"I can look around the arena and I see people wiping their eyes because we had just honored their family member," said Smith, smiling.

Honoring veterans of all branches, American Indian – or not – is a strong standing staple in this community.

Dan Houle says he learned from one of the best.

"We honor all veterans, peacetime and combat veterans," said Houle, "[Dan] approached me to be on the committee and I said 'yes.' And he formed me into what I've been doing now, which is it's all about the veterans, whatever we do, it's for the veterans, everything."

Chuck Smith and the Fond du Lac Reservation created one of the largest pow–wows in the nation, attracting more than 2,000 people across the country.

"We are recognized as a people who have contributed the most per capita to all the branches of serves," said Smith.

During a day that salutes its' nation's soldiers, Chuck will soon retire from the position that made events like this one possible.

"He dedicated a lot of his life to the vets and honoring them," said Houle.

With honor and gratitude, Chuck will pass on the torch, but he will always reiterate the two words that should always be remember: thank you.

"Anytime you see a veteran, thank them for their service and always remember the fallen veteran," reminded Smith, "always remember them and honor them."

The veteran's pow–wow will continue into Sunday.

Nick Minock