Powwow provides opportunity for students to learn
According to Sydel Samuels, director of the University of Idaho Native American Student Center, the eagle staff presented during the Tutxinmepu Powwow Saturday is akin to the American flag.
“The native people respect … those that fly,” Samuels said. “There’s a lot of respect for the eagle because of what the eagle represents, the strength that it has and so any time any native people handle or have eagle feathers they take great care of it.”
To share Native American traditions with the Moscow community, the Native American Student Center and Native American Students Association hosted its 16th annual Tuxtinmepu Powwow Saturday and Sunday. It featured Native American song and dance, as well as ceremonies and crafts.
Samuels said a notable difference in the powwow this year was its new location in the Kibbie Dome, an arrangement the Native American Students Center had been trying to achieve since 2007. Samuels said it was possible this year with the help of UI’s Office of the President, Office of the Provost and the Office of Diversity and Human Rights.
Samuels said the powwow draws in people from far away places.
“Dancers and families come here from all across the United States and Canada,” Samuels said. “The vendors, the dancers, the drummers all come from a long ways away.”
The powwow featured Native American song and dance that caused members of the audience to move their feet to the beat. Native Americans participated in the dances in full regalia, including face paint and headdresses.
There were several vendors selling Native American clothing, jewelry and arts and crafts.
Russell RedCrow of the Blood tribe served as master of ceremonies for the powwow. The event featured three grand entry ceremonies, two Saturday and one Sunday.
The grand entries started with a Native American prayer. Saturday, Keith HeavyRunner of the Blackfeet tribe performed the prayer in his native language, the Blackfoot language. HeavyRunner said his teachers taught him that when they pray in their native language, the words have power.
The grand entries also included the presentation of the eagle staff, which Samuels said is a tradition.
“The eagle feathers are very important … So before we dance, you honor that,” Samuels said. “That’s why they always do always do grand entry, which honors all those things that you see up in front of the emcee stand.”
The powwow also featured a dinner Saturday and an Easter egg hunt Sunday. Samuels said the events were meant to show hospitality to the students who attended the powwow.
“It’s important for us to be hospitable, to welcome guests, so the Easter egg hunt and the dinner’s part of that,” Samuels said. “It’s just in gratitude or in thanks for those that came to U of I.”
Samuels said the Native American Student Association wanted to have traditional Native American food for the dinner, but were not able to this year due to university regulations.
“Normally we would like to provide that, but because of so many restrictions, what’s able to be sold on university campus,” he said. “It’s something that we would like to work on for the future.”
Samuels said the powwow supports Native American students by hosting their traditions and is also a recruitment and retention tool for native students.
“It’s very important that it’s here on the university campus, because it supports our native students that are here, they take great pride in it,” Samuels said. “And so it’s a retention tool, but also a way to help us recruit other native people on our campus.”
Corey Bowes can be reached at email@example.com