Drums beating, feathers flying, hearts racing, spirits soaring — Native American powwows are more than just social gatherings. On November 7 and 8, Indiana University’s First Nations Educational and Cultural Center (FNECC) hosted the 5th Annual Traditional Powwow at Alumni Hall in Indiana Memorial Union, welcoming dancers, drummers, singers, and other performers from across the continent.
As in past years, members of half a dozen tribes traveled to the heart of Indiana to perform for hundreds of spectators. The activities began each day with a Grand Entry, led by the Eagle Staff and the flags of visiting tribes, followed by tribal chiefs and honored members entering the hall in traditional dress.
Drum groups Eyabay, Omaha White Tail, and world-champion Ho-Chunk Station performed throughout the event. The master of ceremonies was Terry Fiddler, the Head Man dancer was Russ Tallchief, and the Head Lady dancer was Amber Cleveland.
Performers as young as two took part, many in colorful regalia adorned with beads, shells, feathers, animal skins, and other traditional materials. But to watch performers of any age practice their art — preserving their heritage and keeping their culture alive — was to stir the spirit.
There are two types of powwows: competitive, in which drummers and dancers compete for prize money, and traditional. In addition to the ceremonial dancing at IU’s traditional powwow, vendors offered handcrafted items such as silver and turquoise jewelry, blankets, artwork, beaded purses, and other accessories. The event was just one of several in IU–Bloomington’s observance of Native American Heritage Month, which has included speakers, workshops, and other performances. Visit IU FNECC’s Facebook page for more details.
First Nations Educational and Cultural Center is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs.