Nearly 500 people from the Heritage University and Yakima Valley community celebrated Native American culture during the inaugural "All Nations Student Powwow," held at Heritage this past Saturday. The event featured a drumming and a dancing competition for participants of all ages. The Grammy-nominated group Black Lodge Singers of White Swan served as Head Drum.
The Powwow also honored the three founders of Heritage University. Hosts presented tradtional Native American blankets to Sister Kathleen Ross and Martha Yallup, with a third to be given to the family of the late Violet Lumley Rau.
Heritage University's two Native American student clubs organized the Powwow, which its leaders declared a success. "We were pleased with the turnout for the event which celebrated and shared the culture of Native people," said Alden Andy, president of the student club American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL).
Dancers competed in several categories including men's and women's traditional, fancy, grass and jingle dance. Several honor dances and intertribal dances involving people from different cultures were also part of the Powwow, which was truly a campus wide affair with students, alumni and supporters taking on lead roles. Long-time supporter Arlen Washines, head of Yakama Nation Higher Education, served as event Master of Ceremonies.
The campus was also filled with vendors selling Native American jewelry and other souvenirs. Several student clubs also sold food as fundraisers. The event wrapped up later that evening with a dinner of elk stew and Indian fry bread. HollyAnna Littlebull, a student and member of AIBL, says the Powwow accomplished the goal of honoring and sharing Native heritage with the community. "We felt that the Powwow built understanding and unity by inviting different cultures to plan and participate. For that, we believe the Powwow was a success."
Organizers are hoping to turn the Powwow into an annual event at Heritage University.
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