Indiana University Bloomington

4th annual powwow at IU blends tradition, modern life

  • Oct. 29, 2014

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By MJ Slaby

A blend of traditional music and arts with education about modern American Indian life, the annual powwow at Indiana University is this weekend.

In its fourth year, the powwow begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union.

There will also be speaking events Thursday and Friday leading up to the powwow and more cultural events throughout November for Native American Heritage Month.

During the powwow performances, the emcee will also talk about modern American Indian issues, said Nicky Belle, an IU graduate student and the arena director for the powwow. There will be ceremonial "grand entries" representing tribes from the United States and Canada at 1 p.m. both days and again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

There will be crafts for sale as well, and the American Indian Center of Indiana is offering free blood pressure and glucose screenings. 

“Indiana doesn't have as much of an American Indian presence as other areas I've lived in,” said Belle, who does programming for the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, one of the event’s sponsors. “It’s so unfortunately common that people don’t realize American Indians exist.”

The powwow is a way to expose attendees to traditional culture and educate them about modern issues to dispel Indian stereotypes, Belle said.

Dancers are coming from across the country, and there will be a northern host drum from Minnesota and southern host drum from Wisconsin. Belle said many of the performers will be from the nearby Prairie and Great Lakes regions.

He said a powwow is a chance for friends and family to catch up as well as a time to meet new people.

“It’s a really fun time,” he said. “People are meeting from all corners of the country.”