USU Native Week to host pageant, dances, powwow

Traditional Native American dances, fry bread and a pageant will all be available to students and the public this week as part of Native Week, said Mario Pereyra, program coordinator for the Native American student council. One of the biggest events of the week, Pereyra said, is the Echoing Traditions 39th Annual Powwow, held in the Nelson Fieldhouse Friday from 7-11 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., beginning again at 6 p.m. after a dinner break. The powwow will feature drummers and dancers. “Powwow is a lot of competition dancing, so there are lots of different categories,” Pereyra said. Some of those categories include traditional dance, grass dance, fancy dance and jingle, he said. Seniors, children and teens will all participate in the event, which is a contest as well as a cultural experience for those who attend, he said. Sandra McCabe, powwow coordinator, said planning for the event began at the beginning of fall semester and a lot of hard work has gone into giving attendees a great experience. The event is heavily based in tradition, she said, and every dance has a different meaning. Student admission is $3 and general public admission is $4, which McCabe said is quite minimal. Another tradition is giving gift baskets, she said. “As part of the culture, we give gift baskets to all the elderly who attend, whether they’re Native American or not, and that’s just to give our appreciation to them,” McCabe said. Gabrielle George, president of the Native American student council, said the event attracts dancers and drummers from all over the country, and if the powwow gets more attention, world champion dancers may attend. One world champion has been invited to this year’s event, she said. George said vendors will also be there to sell concessions, such as fry bread and Navajo tacos, and other wares. “Some of the vendors at our powwow sell jewelry, pottery, clothes and just a bunch of Native American stuff,” she said. “(Students) can also bring something home with them if they’d like. They’d also be supporting Native Americans by buying their artwork.” Monday at 6 p.m., Native Week begins with the Miss American Indian USU Pageant, a free event held in the TSC Ballroom. McCabe said three women will compete in this year’s pageant. The contestants will be judged on a written essay, a contemporary talent, a cultural talent and their impromptu answers to questions.

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