Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University’s two Native American student clubs recently announced that the Grammy-nominated group, Black Lodge Singers, will serve as the Head Drum at their first ever All Nations Student Pow Wow.
“We are really excited,” said Alden Andy, organizer and president of the student club American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) of Heritage University. “This event is all about celebrating and sharing the culture of Native people. Not only is Black Lodge one of the best groups out there, they are from right here in our own community.”
The Pow Wow will take place at Heritage University in Toppenish on Saturday, September 17 starting at 10:00 a.m. with the Grand Entry taking place at 1:00 p.m. It will feature a drumming competition as well as men’s and women’s traditional, fancy, grass and jingle dance competitions for dancers of all ages—from tiny tikes to adults over 55. Several honor dances and intertribal dances, where people from all different cultures are invited to participate, are also planned. The campus will be filled throughout the day with vendors selling food, crafts and other merchandise. Rounding out the day will be a hosted evening meal at 6:00 p.m.
The event truly is a campus-wide affair with students, alumni and supporters taking on lead roles. Long-time supporter Arlen Washines, head of Yakama Nation Higher Education, will serve as the event Master of Ceremonies. Heritage student Jacob Billy and alumnus Haver Jim will split the role of Arena Director. There is even a Heritage tie to the Black Lodge Singers, one of the members of the group, John Scabbyrobe, is an education major in his last year at the university.
HollyAnna Littlebull, also a student and member of AIBL, stresses that one of the things that makes this pow wow different from others is the way it blends elements from traditional pow wows with other elements to make for an welcoming event for all. She explains that it was important to the student organizers to build the drumming, honoring and singing portion of the event according to tradition. However, they felt the need to include the entire campus community in the event planning and participation. Many of the vendors will be student clubs who will be selling food as fundraisers. Additionally, area businesses, non-profit organizations and tribal agencies are invited to host information booths.
“We felt that it was important to build an event that honors our cultural heritage as well as welcomes others to join us and participate,” she said. “By educating we hope to build understanding and unity.”
The Pow Wow is a free event and open to the public. Dancer and drummer registration will open at 11:00 the morning of the event and will remain open until 2:00 p.m. Vendor applications are still being accepted. For more information, visit heritage.edu/powwow.