The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Pow-Wow brings diversity to campus

UW-Eau Claire opened its doors to a day of cultural awareness as it played host to a Pow-Wow Saturday in Zorn Arena, organized by the Native American Student Association.

The NASA program’s definition of a Pow-Wow is a celebration of life where many American Indian nations gather to express themselves through song and dance and also serve as a social gathering to renew old friendships and make new ones.

Not only did it serve as a celebration of traditions within the American Indian community, but it also gave Eau Claire students the chance to learn about perhaps a different group of people.

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“We don’t have a large community of American Indian people in Eau Claire, so bringing an event like this to campus would really diversify people’s experiences here,” professor of American Indian studies Heather Moody said.

The event, which is organized by NASA, is held annually on campus.  It includes a grand entry, where people dress in historic American Indian attire and enter the arena. The Eagle Feather Staff and other flag bearers entered the arena first followed by head dancers. After the flags were presented, three songs took place, thus concluding the grand entry.

The event was organized in a way that everyone could participate.  Following the grand entry, intertribal singing and dancing took place, and everyone in the audience was invited to dance.

Sophomore Matt Weber, attending his first ever Pow-Wow, said he was surprised at how much he enjoyed the event.

“I thought it was going to be a lot more serious and they were going to be more strict about what you could do and what you couldn’t do,” he said. “But it’s pretty laid back and you could do whatever you want.  It was actually a lot of fun.”

Murray Hall Resident Assistant Tyler Richardson made a wing event out of the Pow-Wow so he could promote diversity while also having a fun outing with his residents.  He said he saw a lot of students dancing and that the feedback was generally positive about both the dancing and the grand entry.

“In general there was a wide variety of students there,” Richardson said.  “But I heard after that a lot of students liked it.”

According to a study conducted at Eau Claire in the fall of 2011, 90 percent of the student population is of Caucasian descent, while only 0.4 percent of students categorize themselves as American Indians.

According to the 2010 census, the Eau Claire metropolitan area is made up of 93 percent Caucasian residents and also only .04 percent American Indian residents.

Moody said it is important to bring events like this to the community to expose people of the different culture that has actually had a significant part in the area’s past.

“It’s something that’s different in the community and really expresses the culture,” Moody said.  “Sometimes people tend to forget that this is Native land, and the history of this area makes it important to have at this venue.”

Moody said people in the community and on campus are very accepting of the Pow-Wow and look forward to it every year.

Richardson said he will continue to promote cultural events because he thinks people need to start becoming more knowledgeable on other cultures, not only for remembering people that shaped the history of the United States and Eau Claire like American Indians, but recognizing any culture that is different because the racial populations in the country and world is balancing rapidly.

“We all should go to cultural events, not just to feel obliged to go, but the world is globalized now,” he said.  “We should go to be a worldwide citizen.”



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