Ninth-Annual Powwow honors graduating Native American students


On Saturday, Mar. 28, Augsburg’s Si Melby gym welcomed the college’s Ninth-Annual Powwow. Many different singers and dancers from many Indigenous identities were in attendance throughout the day.

The Augsburg Indigenous Student Association (AISA) brings the yearly event to fruition, headed by chairperson Athena Cloud. However, Cloud cites that she was not alone in the efforts to put on this year’s event. “The names of those who helped and deserve recognition are Arianna Antone-Ramirez, Dakota LaPlante, Simone Rask, Rhe Hembre, Rachel LaFriniere and our supervisor Jennifer Simon,” Cloud said. “Of course, the powwow ran smoothly thanks to all those who volunteered their time to be extra help, because it is one of Augsburg College’s biggest events and attractions.” Cloud spoke of her fondness of the powwow, and said, “the powwow that Augsburg hosts is actually the one event that re- ally got me interested in attending Augsburg for college.”

Cloud continued by explaining the benefits the powwow had on the Native community, especially since the dancers and singers come to Augsburg from such varied backgrounds. “There were at least 12 drum groups who came from all directions and came to bring our music and traditions right here to Augsburg,” Cloud said. “Also, there was a lot of dancers who came to help celebrate the good things in life.” Cloud also commented on her role as a powwow dancer and singer, and what this role means to her.

“We as powwow dancers and singers believe our dancing and singing brings healing to those from the Native community that can no longer participate during these events, so I know those elders and those who are sick appreciated the powwow we put on,” Cloud said. “It’s worth it to see the next generation of singers and dancers learning and carrying on our expression and identity.” At the midpoint of the pow- wow, a ceremony was con- ducted to honor soon-to-be graduates of Augsburg who also identify with the Native community. Frankie McNamara, one such honoree, shared his experience. “I have been to many powwows, and there are similar ceremonies like this at a memorial for somebody who has passed on,” McNamara said. “I was nervous, but I knew it was a great honor to graduate from college because there are a lot of challenges for Native students.

However, at Augsburg, it is easier to get support because there is a large Native student population, and Jennifer Simon makes sure all the Native students get all the support they need.” Despite the nerves, McNamara said, “I felt very supported by everybody in the Native community [in attendance]. It was great for my family to see me graduate from college because it has been a long road for me.”

McNamara also commented on the token each honoree received. They each had the choice between a Star Quilt or Pendleton Blanket. “I chose the Pendleton blanket because I like the pattern and I have never had one of those blankets before. Blankets are very important to the Native culture because it is a way to honor someone and show respect.”

This article first appeared in the Friday, March 31, 2017, Edition of The Echo.