“It is an honor for our office to support the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center in bringing the powwow to campus,” said Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president for strategy, planning and assessment with the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. “Each year, this event stands as a powerful testament to the importance of celebrating an active Native cultural presence and honoring indigenous communities of today.”
Inspired by the traditional dance practices of Native communities in the Great Plains, powwows have spread across the country as popular gatherings at which Native communities come together and showcase their artistic and cultural traditions. The powwow at IU Bloomington will be no exception, as it will host singers, dancers and artists from Native communities throughout the country who continue to carry on the traditions that have been passed down in their families for generations.
“So many people know about Native American history without knowing about contemporary Native American identity and practice and about the contemporary use of music, colors, symbols and dances,” said Nicky Belle, director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center. “The powwow is the perfect opportunity for people to learn about these aspects of culture by participating in them and to see how Native people are able to connect their traditions and histories with their contemporary lives.”
Central to the powwow will be the dancers and performing artists invited to participate. Hailing from a variety of tribes throughout the country, participants will showcase traditional Native American dances, songs and performances that are integral to many contemporary Native American cultures. The grand entries during the powwow, which will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., will highlight the performances taking place throughout the day. Head staff and invited participants in this year’s powwow include:
Isaiah Stewart – Lakota, Mohawk
Marcus Winchester – Pokagon Band Potawatomi
Buck Spotted Tail – Burnt Thigh Nation
Maia Spotted Tail – Saginaw Band of Ojibwe
Bad River Singers – Odanah, Wisconsin
Sizzortail – Shawnee, Oklahoma
HoChunk Station – Lyndon Station, Wisconsin
Iron Bear – Eau Claire, Michigan
Indy Hula – Indianapolis
In a prelude to the powwow weekend, the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center will host a pre-powwow talk featuring Sean Snyder and Adrian Stevens. Both have been powwow dancing nearly all of their lives, and they have been dancing together as a Two-Spirit couple for over five years. Two-Spirit is an identifying term used by many LGBT members of the Native community. Stevens and Snyder will speak about their lives as dancers and as a Two-Spirit couple and will screen and discuss a film they produced about their life together. The talk will take place during IU’s First Thursdays celebration from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 4 in the Fine Arts Building, Room 102.
Attendees to both the powwow and the pre-powwow event are encouraged to be active participants in learning about Native American communities. They should feel free to ask singers and dancers questions about their communities or about their dance clothing and engage with participants in courteous and respectful ways. Both events are free and open to the public. In the event of rain, the IU Traditional Powwow will take place at the IU University Gym.