The loud pounding of the drums, enchanting singing and exciting jingling of the bells filled the Granite Square Room of the Memorial Union Building. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 3, the room transformed into the whirlwind of sounds and colors to celebrate Native American culture in the 8th annual Powwow.
The Native American Cultural Association (NACA) hosted the event.
“NACA plans Powwow and invites the community to come, and this is the 8th annual Powwow,” junior French and anthropology major and NACA representative Elizabeth Schwaner said. “We book the room, we contact vendors, we contact drummers, we contact other musicians, dancers in the community and from the outside. This year we had a dancer from Canada. It’s a lot of advertising and trying to get a word out there to get everyone from the community, whether indigenous or not, to come.”
Powwow also featured a raffle, food and local vendors selling Native American clothing, toys, musical instruments and dream catchers.
Native Americans attendees represented several tribes, but a large part of the audience consisted of non-native people. Tribe representatives, dressed in Native American clothes, performed music and led the dance circle. Occasionally, the circle was reserved for Native American dances, such as the Jingle Dress Dance. Most of the time, however, everyone was free to join the circle and dance with the tribe representatives.
“I come here every year, but this year especially I am taking this Music 515 class and one of the assignments is to [go to] an event and write a paper about it,” senior geology major Risi Naa said.
Originally from West Papua, Indonesia, Naa was pleased to find similarities between Native American culture and traditions in his home country.
“It’s very similar to my culture back home. We do a lot of dancing with drums and stuff like that,” Naa said. “I think wherever we are it is important to learn about indigenous culture of a place. Attending Powwow is one of the ways you can understand culture. It is one of the ways to appreciate what they’ve been doing before all the history that happened.”
Powwow’s aim is to attract attention to the indigenous people of the United States. Despite a large number of non-native attendees, the event was led by and focused on Native Americans.
“A lot of people don’t realize that indigenous people are still around and that they still live in New Hampshire,” Schwaner said, “This Powwow shows that they are still here, they have a culture, that they still exist. It lets indigenous people have a way to celebrate their culture among the people in their own community as well as outside of it.”
During the closing ceremony, four representatives walked around inside a dancing circle to the sound of the closing song, carrying four flags: A United States Native American flag, a Canadian Native American flag, a National League of Families POW/MIA flag, and a NACA flag. The audience members were asked to stand in respect, and some of the Native American audience members held their fists up.