‘Celebrating all walks of life’

GVL / Audra Gamble
17th annual GVSU Three Fires Pow Wow Celebrating All Walks of Life

GVL / Audra Gamble 17th annual GVSU Three Fires Pow Wow “Celebrating All Walks of Life”

Kate Branum

A traditional pow wow is more than just a gathering, it is an opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate Native American culture and traditions. For 2016, Grand Valley State University’s Native American Student Association (NASA) will host its 18th annual spring pow wow.

The gathering will be held on April 9 and April 10, located in the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena on the Allendale Campus. The theme of this year’s pow wow is “Celebrating All Walks of Life.”

The event gives students the opportunity to learn about pow wows, Native American traditions and immerse themselves in the culture.

“We want to promote that Native Americans are still here,” said Samantha Gann, first-year member of NASA. “We’re still a broad community, we still exist even within the Grand Valley community and there’s a lot of us. This is our cultural way of showing you that we’re still here and we’re still a thriving culture.”

Native American dancers, drummers, veterans and other honored guests have been invited by NASA to perform in the event. These participants come to represent a variety of different tribes, both in the Grand Rapids area and from other places in Michigan.

A few of the tribes to be featured will include: Chippewa, Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi.

Molly Matson, president of NASA, said the goal is to reach out to as many different tribe representatives and attendees as possible, and ensure a larger pow wow event. In the past, attendance for this event has been high. This year, there is expected to be about 200 people throughout the day.

“I think that, to me, it’s always been important, first, to have our group, NASA, get all of the Native American students involved and have our family together,” Matson said. “Then, it’s really important to have the pow wow to let people know that we’re here and to try and get people away from stereotypes, because so many people have stereotypes about us.”

The pow wow will commence with a grand entry ceremony, held at 1 p.m. on Saturday and at noon on Sunday. All appointed head dancers, flag carriers and veterans will be welcomed in with drumming and dancing, as well as an honorary song.

During the traditional dances, which will run continuously throughout the event, people are welcome to walk around and browse the assortment of vendors in the arena. Food vendors will sell traditional Native American cuisine, such as soup, fry bread and Indian tacos. Handcrafted goods, intricate bead work, woodwork, paintings and hand-made shirts will also be available for purchase.

For the duration of the pow wow, there will be multiple raffles and silent auctions for attendees to win gift cards, certificates and items donated by each vendor. All proceeds from the auction go toward NASA.

In addition, a two-step dance competition and drum competition will be held on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The pow wow will conclude at 8 p.m. on Saturday and at 4 p.m. on Sunday.