WMU News

Miss Indian World, coloring contest highlight Pow Wow

March 25, 1999

KALAMAZOO-- Instilling awareness of Native American culture and heritage in children is the focus of the 10th annual Native American Contest Pow Wow to be held at Western Michigan University April 10-11.

A variety of activities geared toward teaching children about the Native American heritage are planned during the pow wow which will be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at University Arena. Nearly 8,000 spectators are expected to attend the gathering, which will include Native American dance, regalia, song, food and artwork.

According to Paula Hill, president of the WMU Native American Student Organization which is sponsoring the event with WMU, the theme for this year's pow wow, "Living Our Heritage -- Teaching Our Children," was in response to interest in Native American culture expressed to the NASO by community groups and schools.

"We really wanted to put an emphasis on teaching children about our culture," Hill says. "We invited area schools to attend a mini-pow wow two years ago, and were overwhelmed by its success and the interest from teachers and students."

One of the activities planned is a coloring contest for elementary school age children. Pictures were sent to area elementary schools for students to color and the deadline for entries is April 7. Pictures are also available through NASO and individual entries can be sent to WMU, NASO, Box 100, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. All entries will be displayed at the pow wow, with three winners, each to receive a $50 gift certificate, randomly drawn and announced at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Other highlights of the pow wow will include the participation of Miss Indian World 1998-99, April Whittemore. Whittemore, of Fayetteville, N.C., is a member of the Lumbee, Cheraw and Tuscurora tribes
and will be the female head dancer for the pow wow. She will be available for questions from the media at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday in University Arena.

Other special guests will include Little Island Cree, the Hand Drum Champions of the 1998 World Championships of Song and Dance. Little Island Cree, from the Island Cree Nation near Loon Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, will serve as the "host drum" for the event, leading all grand entry performances. They will also conclude the ceremonies with the co-host drum, Blue Lake from West Michigan.

The grand entries, which feature dancers, singers, drummers and flag bearers in traditional ceremonial dress and are the only times all dancers are on the floor together, will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Following the grand entries, Native American dancers in several age groups will compete for cash prizes in a variety of categories including "jingle dress," "grass dance" and men's and women's traditional and fancy dance.

Native American jewelry and arts and crafts from more than 45 vendors, as well as pow wow memorabilia will be available for purchase. Food vendors will sell such traditional treats as fry bread, Indian tacos and buffalo burgers. In addition, free blood glucose testing and blood pressure screening will be offered during the pow wow.

Admission to the Pow Wow is $5 for adults and $3 students and senior citizens. There is no admission charge for children under 5 or for WMU students with a valid student identification card. There is a parking fee of $3 per vehicle.

For more information, contact the NASO office at (616) 387-2279, Paula Hill at (616) 385-5939 or Cindy Bergeon at (616) 387-3160.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
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