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Native dancer performs at the annual Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa festival, marking the end of the huckleberry harvest

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Growing Up on the St. Joseph River
A Local Legacy

People cannot live without water. So it makes sense that communities are established near significant bodies of water.

In South Bend, Indiana, the St. Joseph River has always been at the heart of the city. The St. Joseph River begins in Michigan, flows into Indiana and then into Lake Michigan. All in all, it travels a 210-mile journey. In fact, the name South Bend comes from the great bend that the river takes there.

The river has been important to Indiana for a long time, encouraging people such as the Miami and Potawatomi Indians to live there. Later, immigrants settled there as well. First it was the French in the 1600s, then the Hispanics and Latinos. The French explorer Sieur LaSalle was the first white man to float on the St. Joseph, in 1679.

The town of South Bend still celebrates its history along the St. Joseph River. Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa is a huckleberry harvest festival in South Bend that is hosted by the Potawatomi Indian Nation. This festival includes American Indian dance performances, delicious things to eat and crafts to admire.

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