WMU News

12th annual Native American Pow Wow is April 7-8

March 26, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Nearly 6,000 spectators are expected to attend the 12th annual Native American Pow Wow to be held at Western Michigan University from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 7, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 8, in University Arena.

The gathering, "Returning to the Circle--Honoring our Traditions and Alumni," will feature Native American dance, regalia, song, food and artwork as well as a variety of activities and seminars geared toward teaching children and adults about Native American heritage. It is open to the public, and families are encouraged to attend.

In keeping with the 2001 theme, a traditional pow wow has been planned rather than a competition pow wow, says Kimberly Bergeon, co-chairperson of WMU's Native American Student Organization, which is sponsoring the event. The focus will be on recognizing the importance of Native American education and culture and on honoring NASO alumni.

"Over the past two years, our children's programs have been well attended," Bergeon says, "but we wanted to give the public even more this year, so we're including the seminars."

In addition to a children's program by Ann Panther Woman, those seminars will include an introduction to making black ash baskets by John Pigeon, fingerweaving by Amanda Pigeon, and a presentation on the Ojibwe language by Punkin Shanaquet and Teresa Magnuson.

According to Cynthia Bergeon, a WMU staff member and NASO's advisor, this year's pow wow theme was inspired by the many WMU students who have contributed to NASO over the years.

"Hundreds of Native American students have graduated from WMU, and many of these alumni are working for tribes or in service positions and are giving back to the community," she says.

"We're fortunate to have alumni and previous NASO members supporting the many events we sponsor. We really wanted to focus on how important they are to both WMU and the community. We feel honored to have them return to WMU and represent NASO. Everything begins in a circle, and they are returning to the circle."

Special pow wow guests will include Blue Lake, a southern "drum" from West Michigan, and several other local drums. Blue Lake will serve as the "host drum," leading all grand entry performances, and conclude the event ceremonies with the help of the northern drum Rush Lake, a local drum made up of many NASO alumni.

The grand entries, which feature dancers, singers, drummers and flag bearers in traditional ceremonial dress, are the only time all dancers are on the floor together. They will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Dancers also can be seen throughout the weekend performing dances such as "jingle dress," "grass dance," men's and women's traditional and fancy dance, and hoop dances. Participating dancers receive free admission to the pow wow and are treated to dinner Saturday night.

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 event is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens and students ages 6 to 17. There is no admission charge for children age 5 and under or for WMU students with a valid student identification card. There is a parking fee of $3 per vehicle.

For more information, call the NASO office at (616) 387-2279, Kimberly Bergeon at (616) 384-0469 or Jodi Palmer at (616) 387-4106 or e-mail Cynthia Bergeon at <cbergeon@cybermind-usa.net>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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