First Nations center to host Indiana University's Fifth Annual Traditional Powwow

  • Oct. 30, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Native Americans from throughout the country will gather at Indiana University Bloomington to share and honor history, tradition and culture during this year’s traditional powwow.

Indiana University’s Fifth Annual Traditional Powwow begins at noon Nov. 7 and 8 in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St.

The event is hosted by IU’s First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 11 a.m. A free community meal will take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the IMU.

"The powwow is the quintessential contemporary Native social gathering in that it incorporates many tribal traditions, brings together Natives and  non-Native allies, and educates the general public about the presence of Natives,” said Brian Gilley, director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center and a professor of anthropology. “Here at Indiana University, the powwow is a constant reminder of the presence of Natives among the students, faculty and staff. It is a point of pride for our Native students and tells Natives nationwide that they are welcome here on campus and can thrive while here."

The powwow’s Head Man dancer will be Russell Tallchief, a Southern Straight dancer from Shawnee, Okla., and the director of student engagement, inclusion and multicultural affairs at Oklahoma City University. He is also the nephew of Maria Tallchief, the first Native American prima ballerina.

The event’s Head Lady dancer will be Amber Cleveland, a Ho Chunk from Shakopee, Minn. She dances fancy shawl, a physically demanding dance with intricate step work. Her husband, Chaske LaBlanc, a Northern Traditional Dancer, will also be in attendance.

The Northern host drum will be Eyabay, a contemporary-style champion drum from Minnesota. This is their first time attending IU’s Powwow. The Southern host drum will be Omaha White Tail, from Macy, Neb. 

The invited Northern drum will be Ho Chunk Station, a group of Ho Chunks from Wisconsin consisting of a father and sons. When not singing, the boys will be dancing in the Powwow.

The powwow kicks off IU Bloomington’s observance of Native American Heritage Month, which features a number of events.

"Like other federally designated heritage months, NAHM is designed to bring Native culture into focus,” Gilley said. “At the First Nations center and IU Bloomington, we attempt to use this month to emphasize what is good about being Native: the culture, the community, knowledge and future generations.  We use these cultural events to give voice to social and political concerns by creating a meeting point for Natives and dominant society."

Other Native American Heritage Month events will include:

  • Native American Beading Workshop with master artisan Marilyn Cleveland, a Cherokee and White Mountain Apache, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1, also at the culture center. Lunch and materials will be provided.
  • “Hybrid Revival -- Evolving Tools and Strategies for Helping Endangered Language Communities,” with speaker Ben Levine, at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the culture center.
  • “Sisters Tallchief: Osage Ballet Legends,” a panel discussion with Violette Verdy, distinguished professor at the Jacobs School of Music who danced with Maria Tallchief, and Russell Tallchief, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Global and International Studies Building Room 1118, 355 N. Jordan Ave.
  • Pre-powwow keynote speaker Ashley Falzetti, member of the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana and assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at Eastern Michigan University, at noon Nov. 6 at the Mathers Museum. A reception will follow at the First Nations House.
  • “Preserving Native American Legacies: Native American Recordings at the Archives of Traditional Music,” speaker series with Alan Burdette, director of IU’s Archives of Traditional Music, 12:30 to 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at First Nations house.
  • A Cherokee Double Wall Basketry Workshop with John Johnson, a Cherokee, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at the culture center. Lunch and materials will be provided.

Registration is for all of the Native American History Month events can be done by calling 812-855-4814 or emailing

Powwow dancer

Buster Cleveland of Ho Chunk Station performs at last year's powwow.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

April Toler

  • Office 812-856-3006

Brian Gilley

First Nations Educational and Cultural Center

  • Office 812-855-4814