November is Native American Heritage Month

Monday, October 28, 2013

Read Vice President and Dean Wimbush's statement on the IU First Nations Education and Culture Center and Native American Heritage Month.

Native Americans gathered Oct. 26 and 27 at Indiana University Bloomington to share history, culture, and arts at a traditional powwow.

Other Native American Heritage Month events will include:

  • Native American Beading Workshop with Belle at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 2. All beading materials and instruction will be provided free of charge, but registration is required. To register, contact the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center at or 812-855-4814.
  • Native American Beading Workshop with Master Artisan Marilyn Cleveland, a Cherokee and White Mountain Apache, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9, also at the Mathers Museum. Lunch will be served at noon. Registration is required for this workshop; contact or 812-855-4814.
  • Western Cherokee Double Wall Basketry Weaving Workshop with John W. Johnson, IU associate professor emeritus of folklore and a member of the Cherokee nation, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 10, also at the Mathers Museum. Lunch will be served at noon. Registration is required; contact or 812-855-4814.
  • Mathers Museum Director Jason Baird Jackson will teach an IU Lifelong Learning course that explores the arts and cultures of Native North America from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 12 and 19. He will draw upon his collaborations with contemporary native communities and make special use of the Mathers Museum collections that are not on public display. The course costs $50. Registration is available online.

The Indiana University Third Annual Traditional Powwow began at 11 a.m. each day at Willkie Auditorium, 150 N. Rose Ave. It also served as the lead event for IU Bloomington's observance of Native American Heritage Month.

In advance of the powwow, Clyde Ellis, professor of history and Distinguished Scholar at Elon University, presented the lecture, "This Is a Good Way, Get Up and Dance: A History of Modern Powwow Culture."

Ellis' talk on Oct. 24 was in De Vault Gallery of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave. A reception followed. The lecture was co-sponsored by IU First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, the Department of History in the IU College of Arts and Sciences and the Mathers Museum.

Other events in November will include lectures and workshops. Most are free and open to the public.

This year's IU Powwow has grown in size and scope, and participants are coming from across the country and even from Canada. In past years, the event has attracted several hundred people from across the Midwest.

"Our goal is for the IU Powwow to become the largest powwow in the Big Ten and one of the most prominent powwows in the Midwest," said Nicholas Belle, a doctoral student in anthropology from Long Valley, N.J., and Native American programs developer for First Nations Educational and Cultural Center. "We are encouraging everyone to come to this year’s powwow, make some new friends and plan on returning to next year’s powwow."

The Northern host drum was Brave Heart, also known as Chante T’inza, from Pine Ridge, S.D., which performs music from the Oglala nation. Their latest album is "That's How We Roll" on the Bear Tracks label.

Brave Heart performing
Brave Heart (watch a video of Brave Heart in performance)

The Southern host drum was Cozad from Hominy, Okla. It is a Grammy Award-winning Kiowa drum group that was founded by Leonard Cozad Sr. in the 1930s and consists of his descendants. They performed on the 2001 Grammy winner for Best Native American Music Album, "Gathering of Nations Pow Wow." Their most recent album, "California Pow Wow," won the 2005 Native American Music Award for Best Historical Recording. Cozad is a five-time winner of the Southern Challenge drum championship at the Gathering of Nations and was the host Southern drum at the inaugural National Museum of the American Indian powwow in Washington, D.C., in 2002.

Chaske Hotain, originally from Sioux Valley, Manitoba, Canada, was the event's invited drum.

Terry Fiddler, a Lakota from Red Wing, Minn., who has won multiple dance competitions, including at the Gathering of Nations, emceed the event. The arena director was Darrell Goodwill, a member of the Dakota/Lakota nations from Window Rock, Ariz., who is an eight-time world champion in grass dancing and a member of the American Indian Dance Theater.

Head man dancer was Isaiah Stewart, a member of the Oglala Lakota nation from Lawrence, Kan., and a student at the University of Kansas. Head woman dancer was Charlie Cuny, of Kyle, S.D., an Oglala Sioux tribal member who was a contestant in the 2013 Miss Native American USA. She is a student at Haskell Indian Nations University.

The powwow featured American Indian arts and crafts as well. A highlight was performances by drum groups and singers and the ceremonial "grand entries" representing tribes from across the United States and Canada each day at 1 p.m. and at 7 p.m. Oct. 26.

"Gourd dancing," which honors veterans and community elders, took place each day at 11 a.m. before grand entry. A meal was served at noon each day, free of charge. Crafts were available for purchase.

"Specials" at this year’s powwow included a two-person handdrum contest and jingle dress and northern traditional dance contests. These took place at the IU Powwow as well as at one of the event hotels, Bloomington's Holiday Inn.

"Powwows originated from the development of inter-tribal culture, where people share their experience of being native in the United States," said Brian Gilley, director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center and an associate professor of anthropology. "They present a level of solidarity among the multi-tribal populations who have disparate political and social agendas. It becomes a meeting point for all of those different cultures."

People attending the powwow were asked to be aware of basic etiquette, which is mostly simple respect and common sense. For example, ask permission before taking photos of dancers, singers or other participants. A dancer's clothing is a treasure, an expression of history, with some regalia handed down through generations. Always ask permission to touch regalia.

The powwow was presented by the Native American Graduate Student Association, the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, the IU Student Association, and IU First Year Experience.

Related articles:

Powwow at IU offers glimpse of Native American culture

National publication Indian Country Today spotlights Traditional Powwow hosted at IU Bloomington

Lecture at Mathers Museum explores the history and cultural meaning of the powwow