Attracting thousands of people over the weekend, the 31st Ann Arbor Pow Wow, “Dance for Mother Earth,” saw one the of largest gatherings of Native Americans in the United States. Held at the Crisler Arena over the course of three days, the Pow Wow annually features many dancers, singers and artists.
“At the Pow Wow, we hope to create a greater awareness of Native people,” said LSA junior Nickole Fox, secretary of the Native American Student Association. “Adding to the diversity of the campus is also a goal. Native students are so few here on campus, it helps to have a big event like this so that we can be more visible both in the eyes of the University and in the eyes of other students.”
First organized in 1971 by the local Native American community, the event has grown in popularity and size throughout the years. The modern Pow Wow is based on the basic values to Native Americans throughout North America: honor, respect, tradition and generosity.
“Throughout the year, we honor our ancestors, our elders, and our families with each step that we take on our journey,” NASA said in a written statement.
Every Pow Wow starts with the Grand Entry, when dancers line up behind the Head Veteran, Flag Carriers, Head Dancers and Princesses from different communities.
The dancers’ colorful clothing is known as regalia. The regalia is all handmade and differs based on dance styles.
Sam Necklace, a Sioux Indian participating in the Pow Wow said the event raises awareness of Native American culture.
“I came because I like to dance,” Necklace, a high school junior from Ohio said. “It is important to keep the culture going. More people learn about Native American culture (through Pow Wow), so that it’s not forgotten.”
Sonya Maasz, a resident of Ohio who came with her family, said this was her first time at the Pow Wow.
“It’s part of America that I’ve never thought about. I feel that this is very important and it’s also for understanding. What I’m looking for are commonalities (between cultures). I’m just learning,” Maasz said.
“Pow Wow also serves as a time for all our families to come to visit and have a good time,” Fox said. “We meet up with old friends and make many new ones. It also strengthens our cultural ties and reminds us of our responsibilities to give back to our community.”
The history of Native Americans and the University goes back to 1817, when the school was founded in Detroit on land ceded by the Native Americans. Native Americans ceded a total of 3,840 acres of land.
The University moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 when land developers offered 40 acres of land in Ann Arbor. The original Native gift land used for the University was sold and the proceeds of that sale remain part of the permanent endowment of the University today.
The Pow Wow was sponsored by The Native American Student Association and the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs.