The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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American Indian culture honored, celebrated at annual Pow Wow

The 25th annual Pow Wow was held Saturday on the University Lawn, bringing together members of various tribes and American Indian communities in a traditional celebration.

The event began at 9 a.m. and went on until 10 p.m., and featured dances, speakers, American Indian music and food.

‘It’s an annual celebration honoring our ancestors and American Indian traditions,’ said Jazmin Navarro, the president of the American Indian Student Association, and member of four years.

The theme for this year’s event, according to Navarro, was ‘Honoring Mother Earth’ and serves to help draw attention to the problem of global warming.

According to Navarro, the Pow Wow is also a social event where members of various tribes can come and be together.

Among the communities represented at this year’s Pow Wow were the San Carlos Apache, the Navajo, the Dineh Nation and the Kiowa.

The Pow Wow opened with a ground blessing ceremony and marking off the arena where the dancers and drum players were to perform.

Next came the Danza Azteca, a traditional Aztec dance.

The dancers, about 25 of them, gathered in a large circle and danced to three large standing wooden drums, which sat just outside the circle.

Some dancers wore long headdresses colored with brown, blue and purple feathers. Bells and rattles covered their shins and, as the dancers moved, sounded along with the drums.
Others wore plain white cloth garments with red sashes and headbands and woven leather shoes.

Also performed during the Pow Wow was the Gourd Dance, a traditional American Indian dance associated with the opening of a Pow Wow.

Before the start of the dance a large circular drum was placed in the center of the arena and the singers and drummers all sat around the instrument.

On the perimeter of the arena, tents were set up, under which sat the dancers in their traditional regalia.

The dancers’ outfits ranged from simple black slacks, white button-up shirts and black vests, to the more elaborate dress of bright yellow garments with feathered headdresses and small circular mirrors running down the backside.

Each dancer carried with him a bird’s wing, either that of an eagle, owl or other large bird, and a gourd, or rattle, which was made from a small aluminum can fastened to the end of a wooden stick.

As the drummers began to play and sing in the center of the arena, the dancers slowly stood up from their chairs and began to shake their gourd in harmony with the beat.

Slowly, and taking small steps, the dancers entered the arena and circled around the drum players.

As the music reached its climax, the singers grew louder and pounded the drums more aggressively, all the dancers stopped and faced the drum in the center of the arena, keeping the rhythm with their gourds.

The Pow Wow also had a number of vendors at the event, selling silver and turquoise jewelry, blankets, dream catchers, bags, beads and other souvenirs.

For food, fried bread and ‘Indian tacos’ were on sale to those in attendance.

The American Indian Student Association was officially chartered in 1969. In 1976 the 1st Annual CSUN Pow Wow was held at the Devonshire Downs.

For five years, beginning in 1999, there was no annual Pow Wow. According to Navarro, the event was stopped due to a lack of funding and organization.

The Pow Wows resumed again in 2005.

The Central American United Student Association, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan and the Pacific Islanders Student Organization also participated in the event.

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