Powwow

Amy OlsonFor

Native Americans from nine states and one Canadian province gathered at the Sports Pavilion this weekend for a powwow.
While not the first powwow held by the American Indian Student Association, it was the first held at the sports pavilion. More than 150 dancers from 17 tribes across the United States and Canada competed in the event, drawing more than 200 spectators.
Six drum groups provided the music for the dancers to compete to.
Jackie Blackbird, a University freshman and member of the American Indian Student Association, said some dancers earn a living by competing in powwows along the powwow trail.
“It’s competitive,” Blackbird said. “Some people travel across the country and Canada, making a living by competing in powwows.”
Adult male and female dancers wearing traditional costumes compete in one of three categories. Women’s categories include traditional, jingle dress and fancy shawl. Men compete in fancy, traditional and grass categories.
Children ages 9 to 16 also compete in the same dance categories. Children ages 8 and under dance for exhibition.
Adult dancers in each category at the powwow won $700 for first place, while dancers age 9 to 16 won $300 for first place. Each category of dance is judged on its own criteria.
The best drum groups also won prizes. The first-place group won $3,000; the second-place group received $2,000; the third-place group received $1,000.
The three drum groups that did not place split a $1,000 “drum-split” prize.
Blackbird noted that powwows in Las Vegas and Wisconsin depleted the number of American Indians competing in the University powwow. Families and individuals pick and choose which powwows to attend.
The American Indian Student Association began planning the powwow in November with help from the American Indian Learning Resource Center. Seventeen students, most of whom are freshmen, served on the committee that organized the event.
After all the dancers entered the arena at grand entry on Saturday, the students who planned the powwow had built a “strong family network,” said Justin Huenemann, an adviser at the American Indian Learning Resource Center.
“The students on the committee worked hard to put the powwow together,” Huenemann said. “Though they come from many nations, they built a community through their collaborative effort and teamwork.”
Blackbird said the American Indian Student Association hoped to introduce non-Native American students to part of the American Indian culture.
“We haven’t had a powwow on campus for a long time now and wanted to bring our culture to campus,” Blackbird said. “Not many people have the opportunity to see a powwow.”
“We started making plans in November, but in the last few months we’ve been working hard,” said College of Liberal Arts freshman and planning committee member Melissa Boney.
Never before held indoors, Blackbird said the group learned from the event.
Since they didn’t anticipate the reverberation of the drum beats echoing off the walls of the pavilion, Blackbird said, the dancers had to pay close attention to stay with the rhythm.
Boney said the American Indian Student Association might hold a powwow on campus again in 1999.
“We haven’t started planning events for next year,” Boney said. “We haven’t gotten that far.”