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Archive for Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ancient rituals for modern-day audience

Haskell powwow highlights unity within tribal diversity

Performers Brandie Chavez, of New Mexico, and James Jones, of Oklahoma, keep to the beat of the drummers Saturday during the Gourd Dance at the Haskell Welcome Back Pow-Wow.

Performers Brandie Chavez, of New Mexico, and James Jones, of Oklahoma, keep to the beat of the drummers Saturday during the Gourd Dance at the Haskell Welcome Back Pow-Wow.

August 30, 2009

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Brycen Whiteshirt, 8, of Hominy, Okla., participates in the Gourd Dance on Saturday at the powwow.

Brycen Whiteshirt, 8, of Hominy, Okla., participates in the Gourd Dance on Saturday at the powwow.

With the sun setting over the Haskell Pow-Wow Grounds and sounds of the Thundershield drum group drifting through the air, students at Haskell Indian Nations University were officially welcomed back to school Saturday evening.

As the color guard led a group of about 50 in the Grand Entry of dancers, the crowd was introduced to some of the school’s more prominent members.

Haskell royalty, senate members and Fulbright scholars all paraded through the powwow grounds. They were followed by dancers wearing elaborate American Indian regalia — feather headdresses, bells, beaded jewelry, jingle dance dresses and blankets.

“I can’t think of a better way to start off an academic year than with a powwow,” Haskell professor Dan Wildcat told the crowd.

Saturday’s annual Haskell Welcome Back Pow-Wow is a chance to greet the university’s students who have come from as far away as Alaska, California, Michigan and Florida. The powwow also is a way to celebrate both the students’ shared culture and the differences they bring from their many tribes, student senate president Janice Mendez said.

“We are all Indian. But we all have different languages and traditions,” she said. “This represents the values we share.”

Among those preparing to dance was Samantha Pretty Weasel. The freshman from Fort Hall, Idaho, was taking part in the jingle dress dance, which required tin-shaped cones be sewn onto her dress.

Next to Pretty Weasel was her 26-year-old cousin Shannan Dayes, who had made the trip from Indianapolis. After hearing much about Haskell and Lawrence, Dayes decided to visit.

“I dance whenever I can,” she said.

Saturday’s event brought out members from the community. Among them was Darrell Frank and his niece, Krysallin Ahtone.

Frank graduated from Haskell last year and was preparing for the men’s northern traditional dance, a dance that imitates the movements of hunters and warriors. Ahtone, a sophomore at Free State, was going to do the Teen’s Fancy Shawl dance, a fast-paced dance that has her feeling like she could “fall over and pass out” within minutes, she said.

With more than 1,000 students enrolled this semester, Frank thought the school year was getting off to a good start.

“It’s a great time to have that,” he said.

Comments

everett21 4 years, 6 months ago

"This wouldn't be about preservation of a culture, would it?"

what do you mean?

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 7 months ago

The LJW wrote:

"The powwow also is a way to celebrate both the students’ shared culture and the differences they bring from their many tribes, student senate president Janice Mendez said."

Marion writes:

This wouldn't be about preservation of a culture, would it?

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

Haskell has come a long way since its beginning. I would like to see more visibility of our Native students. You could go though life in this town and not be aware they are out there. I agree with the poster who went downtown and said, "I see white people." I would bet that most whites are unaware of the great diversity of the Native peoples and what we all can learn from them. Brycen is just adorable.

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