Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

5th Annual Powwow takes place Saturday and Sunday

Chelsey Mountain and Jessica Mountain share experiences of bead work with each other during the 5th Annual Traditional Powwow on Saturday afternoon in Alumni Hall.

As more people began to file in, only standing room became available. Although grand entry began a half-hour later than scheduled, the crowd did not leave.

This was the beginning of the 5th Annual Traditional Powwow, which took place all day Saturday and Sunday.

“We’re going on Indian time,” Terry Fiddler, the master of ceremonies, said. “That is, we go whenever we are ready.”

When Fiddler finally said it was time to start, the drums began and everyone stood up.

They watched as dancers, wearing traditional outfits, colorful and full of feathers, beads and metals, followed flag bearers into Alumni Hall.

IU’s First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, sponsored the event.

The event served as a way to educate the community and show them the active native community in Indiana, said Heather Williams, departmental secretary of FNECC.

“It’s one good major event for us to really be seen and heard and have our voice out there on campus and community-wide and statewide and nationwide,” Williams said.

On Saturday after the grand entry, exhibition and intertribal dancing continued until the dinner break, which included a free community meal.

After the dinner break, the next grand entry took place leading to more dancing until the powwow ended at 10 p.m.

“Saturday is like a marathon day,” Williams said. “People are going to be there all day and pumped to last all day.”

The powwow followed a similar schedule and ended at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Although the main event of the powwow was the dancing, attendees could take a break from that and visit the vendors selling arts and crafts as well as enter to win door prizes.

With attendees varying from students to community members to Native Americans to non-Native Americans, they came for different reasons.

“This seemed so interesting,” Vicki King, a pianist for the Jacobs School of Music ballet who attended the powwow, said. “It’s so wonderful that they keep this tradition alive, and it’s important for us, as the community, to support it.”

Head man at the powwow was Russell Tallchief from Shawnee, Oklahoma.

He said powwow is something to bring everyone together, regardless of tribe, race or gender.

He added that it has become an important part of the preservation of native heritages from around the 

“Everybody is dancing to that drum beat, and so we become one body in motion around that drum,” Tallchief said. “It’s a very powerful thing to be a part of that and to have that gift.”

It’s a celebration of culture and life, he said.

Powwow is an easy space for everybody to buy into and be involved in, said Sean Gantt, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society and of Choctaw descent.

“It’s a good way to bring in the general public and students and other faculty at IU to give them at least some taste, some experience, of interacting with native people, which they may or may not have in their daily life,” Gantt said.

Get stories like this in your inbox