MSUM Powwow: A First Nation celebration

BY BECKI DEGEEST
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Two participants in tribal regalia compete in the final round of the chicken dance at the 25th annual Woodlands and High Plains Powwow, in Nemzek April 26. Photo by Ben Gumeringer

Last Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the Woodlands and High Plains Traditional Powwow sponsored by MSUM, Concordia College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Moorhead and North Dakota State University.

Each year the powwow takes place at one college in the area to help educate the community and college students on native traditions.

With this year’s powwow theme, “Many Nations, One Community” the event was a celebration that brought local tribes, First Nation people and Fargo-Moorhead community members together to celebrate First Nation people, its culture and heritage.

Powwows are the Native American way of meeting together to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and making new ones.  This is a method to renew and celebrate Native American culture and preserve rich heritage. In addition to the celebration, this year’s powwow hosted by MSUM celebrated the educational experiences of American Indian higher education and the sharing of tribal cultures in the FM area.

There were several activities for everyone to participate at the powwow. The celebration featured many styles of dance, games and drum songs from area tribes, which allowed and often invited anyone who wished to dance in the center of the room.

“My favorite part is the dancing. It’s really fun and exciting,” MSUM music major Brianna Bradley said. Many of the dancers who attended wore bright colors, feathers, bells and bangles to go along with the beat of the music.

This year a new powwow tradition was added – the hand games tournaments. The hand game is a Native American guessing game which is played individually or in small groups.

“I think I’m going to try playing the hand games,” music major Aurelia Shippentower said. “Basically you take two sets of bones and they mix them up, and you have to find the one with a stripe on it.”

Along with games, the powwow had many vendors to help commemorate the culture and give opportunity for people to be further educated on the First Nation way of life.

For Bradley and Shippentower, it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon in celebration.

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