Powwow celebrates Native American heritage

The United Indian Students in Higher Education is celebrating its annual spring Powwow today and tomorrow, May 1, in the Peter Stott Center.

The United Indian Students in Higher Education is celebrating its annual spring Powwow today and tomorrow, May 1, in the Peter Stott Center.

The mission of this year’s powwow, according to UISHE, is to be friendly, hospitable and generous.

The event will feature Native American drum music, food, and dancing. In addition, there will be vendors from all over the country selling handmade crafts, clothing and jewelry.

“With the powwow we want to encourage participation from the whole Northwest,” said UISHE member Nicole Charley, who has been involved with the group’s annual powwows for the past two years.

UISHE is a student-run group that has been at Portland State since the 1970s. According to its website, the group’s mission is to provide support for Native American students entering higher education, help natives preserve their customs, provide a base for cultural education to non-native peoples, improve community racial relations and develop positive role models for its members.

“These events are held to renew the culture and preserve the heritage of the Native American Indians,” Charley said.

The Friday session will start with the registration of all participants who wish to be in the Miss Naimuma contest, which is a contest for young native women ages 13 to 18.

“The title of Miss Naimuma is only given to young women who have shown responsibility and can be a positive role model to the community,” Charley said.

Friday’s event will kick off with a “Grand Entry,” starting at 7 p.m., which honors elders, veterans and tribes. Afterwards there will be a blessing to “open up the floor,” Charley said.

The HeadMan for this year’s event, Gary Olney, will do men’s fancy dancing, while the HeadWoman, Thea McCloud, will do a women’s traditional dance.

On Saturday the celebration will begin at noon, and will include a tradition special, followed by the introduction of all of the participants in the Miss Naimuma contest. After a dinner break at 5 p.m., the winners for the contest will be announced.
In addition to the Miss Naimuma contest, there will also be a contest held to recognize the best dancers and drummers. Winners will receive prizes from the community.

“This year’s event is a bit different from the previous years, because we are having southern and northern host drums,” said Cornel D. Pewewardy, associate professor of Native American Studies at PSU.

“This unites the drumming from the north with the drumming from the south, and these types of drumming techniques are very different from each other,” he said. “The northern drums are more high-pitched, while the southern drums are more low-pitched.”

Young KingBird from Red Lake, Minn., and InterTribal Veterans from Window Rock, Ariz. will be this year’s host drums.

Members of UISHE have diverse backgrounds and represent a number of tribes throughout North America, according to its website.

For more information about UISHE, visit www.uishe.groups.pdx.edu.