CSUN hosted its 27th Annual American Indian Studies Powwow Saturday

Christianna Triolo

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James Sanchez dances a Chicken Dance in traditional regalia during CSUN's 27th Annual Powwow Saturday afternoon. The dance is also known as Prairie Chicken Dancing and started as a society dance where ceremonies were made along with other organizations. The dance has its history in the Blackfoot and Cree tribes. Photo Credit: Christianna Triolo / Executive Editor

Under the shade of several oak trees near the orange groves, CSUN hosted the 27th Annual American Indian Studies (AIS) Powwow.  The powwow closes National Native American Heritage Month that celebrates the culture, contributions and heritage of Native Americans.  It was an intimate gathering of dancers and their families who entered the arena to celebrate the theme of this years powwow, Living Traditions.

The powwow opened with a ground blessing and grand entry, followed by a gourd dance and flag song that honored warriors and veterans.  An exhibition of a number of dances included fancy shawl dances, men’s southern straight dances, men’s grass dance, women’s jingle dress dance, and intertribal dances.

Friendly competition was held during the powwow where both men and women danced for small cash prizes.  Some dancers were paid respect in the form of honor dances.  The dancer being honored dances in front of their family, while people enter the arena and shake hands with the dancer’s family and join in the dance.

Gift baskets were also handed out to the head staff in recognition of their help in leading the numerous powwow dances.

There was an arts and crafts table where children made animal masks out of colorful construction paper and decorated them with glitter, markers and feathers. They could also make and decorate baskets.  Vendors sold Native American-made silver and semiprecious stone jewelry, dreamcatchers, T-shirts, hats, tobacco pouches and artwork.

The American Indian Student Association (AISA) walked around selling raffle tickets for a Pendleton saddle blanket and other prizes donated by vendors.  The students also sold T-shirts and snacks, with all money made going back to AISA.

The powwow also offered the opportunity to give back to the community.  Proceeds from a cake walk went to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, for winter clothes.

Members from an organization called Red Circle Project offered free HIV/AIDS testing and encouraged those who attended the powwow to stop by for more information on practicing safe sex.  There was also a representative from the Tarzana Treatment Center to help those with addiction problems and free counseling.

The powwow continued into the night with dancers dancing in the arena under lights powered by generators.  As the temperature continued to drop and it began to rain, many kept warm with hot cups of coffee, beef stew and Indian tacos.  The night concluded with one last intertribal dance and the raffle drawing.