March 17, 1998
KALAMAZOO -- "Celebrating Native American Heritage within the Community" is the theme of the ninth annual Native American Pow Wow set for Saturday and Sunday, April 4-5, at Western Michigan University.
Nearly 5,000 people are expected to attend the gathering, which will take place at the University Arena from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
"We chose this year's theme because we really wanted to tie Kalamazoo in to this event," says Paula Hill, president of the WMU Native American Student Organization, one of the sponsors of the pow wow. "In the past we've had calls from people asking if they could come or if they had to be Native American to attend. We picked this theme to say, 'Yes, this is open to everybody -- this is a community event and we want the community to come celebrate with us.'"
In an effort to recognize and celebrate Kalamazoo's Native American heritage, Kalamazoo Mayor Robert Jones is expected to declare April 4-5 Native American Heritage Days in Kalamazoo at the regular city commission meeting on Monday, March 30. The declaration will be presented to Native American Student Organization representatives at the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.
The pow wow, featuring Native American dance, regalia, song, food and artwork, is designed to increase awareness of Native American culture and its impact on modern American life and to encourage children to continue their education. It is sponsored by the Native American Student Organization and the WMU Division of Minority Affairs.
Leading the drummers at the pow wow will be Starblanket of Saskatchewan, Canada, winners of the 1997 World Class Singing Championships at the Gathering of the Nations in Albuquerque, N.M. As the highly respected "host drum" for the event, Starblanket will lead the grand entry performances -- the only time all dancers are on the floor together. Starblanket will also conclude the ceremonies with the help of the co-host drum, High Spirit of Mount Pleasant.
The grand entries featuring dancers, singers, drummers and flag bearers in traditional ceremonial dress will open the pow wow at 1 p.m. each day. A grand entry also will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday. Following the grand entries, Native American dancers in several age groups will compete for cash prizes in a variety of dances including "jingle dress," "grass dance," and men's and women's traditional and fancy dance.
More than 45 Native American traders, from as far away as New Mexico and from Michigan and Canada, will have Native American jewelry, arts and crafts, and other pow wow memorabilia for purchase. Food vendors will sell such traditional treats as fry bread, Indian tacos and buffalo burgers. Doors to browse the vendors' wares will open each day at 11 a.m.
Admission to the pow wow is $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. There is no admission charge for children under 12 or for WMU students with a valid student identification card. There is a parking fee of $3 per vehicle.
For more information on the event, call the Native American Student Organization office at (616) 387-2279 or contact Paula Hill at (616) 385-5939, Doug Craven at (616) 383-4134 or Cynthia Bergeon at (616) 387-3160.
Media contact: Julie Paavola; firstname.lastname@example.org
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