Annual Pow Wow brings multiple tribes to UVU

Celebrations include dancing, food and drums

Cassandra Lesa | Staff Writer
Photo credit: Mike Richardson

Dancers wore beautiful, handmade costumes and musicians prepared their drums Nov. 13-14 as the Native Wolverine Association, UVU’s Native American Club, hosted their annual Pow Wow in the Grande Ballroom.

Colorful pattered blankets were draped over seats to reserve them as people bustled around the vendors who sold dream catchers, jewelry and food.
The Pow Wow is a pan-tribal cultural celebration and an opportunity for Native Americans to join together in song and dance, and visit with friends. Other Native Americans from surrounding communities were invited to the celebration. The Pow Wow also offers food, and arts and crafts. UVU’s Pow Wow is a contest Pow Wow. It differs from a social Pow Wow in that it also serves as a dance competition.

The Pow Wow began with a procession of dancers, symbolizing the different tribes coming together. The flags of tribal nations and the American flag were presented, and the audience stood in respect.

The drums are an extremely important part of Native American culture. The drum group for the Pow Wow came from White Swan, Washington to celebrate.

“Drums are the heartbeat of the circle. They’re the heart and soul of the Pow Wow. We have the dancing—it can be flashy, it can be old style, it can be different—but the drum is the heart and soul of every Pow Wow,” said Orriena Snyder, the Native Wolverine Pow Wow coordinator,.

“They’re the ones that sing for us, they’re the ones that do the prayers. Their singing is prayers, in a way. It is very important to have a drum group and singers that know their culture and their language so that they can know those prayers for us and sing those songs for us,”she said.

Taya James has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She arrived at the Pow Wow in a silky, light-blue regalia decorated with butterflies that was handmade by her grandmother. The butterflies on the costume symbolize and honor her grandmother.

“It just makes me feel a part of everything and helps me relieve stress,” James said.

The Native Wolverine Association has been fundraising money for the Pow Wow all year–holding service projects and food fundraisers. The proceeds of this year’s celebration will go toward scholarships. The Native Wolverine Association is also raising money to host an indigenous student youth conference in the spring.

“Personally, for me, I like the women’s Fancy Dance” said Kamaih Lansing, a 22-year-old Weber State Student.

Shaina Snyder, treasurer and vendor coordinator of the Native Wolverine Association said, “The Native Wolverine Association is a place for Natives and non-natives to get together and feel comfortable in a safe place”.

The Native Wolverine Association meets every week in the multi-cultural center.

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