Community members gathered at the Lied Center Saturday to learn about and celebrate Indigenous culture through the 34th annual KU First Nations Student Association (FNSA) powwow.
The powwow kicked off at 10:30 a.m. with the Gourd Dance. Master of Ceremonies Manny King of the Northern Cheyenne and Navajo tribes opened the event by welcoming everyone and explaining the history of the Gourd Dance.
The Gourd Dance tells the ancient Kiowa legend of a young warrior encountering a red wolf after being separated from his tribe and nearly dying of exposure.
“And in the morning, that wolf approached him and told him, ‘I’ve showed you these beautiful things to cherish,’” King said. “Take care of them; remember them; take them to your people. They will forever bless you and look over you in a good way.”
The sixth annual Indigenous Cultures Festival hosted free educational presentations and activities throughout the day, offering contemporary books by Indigenous authors, fingerweaving workshops, traditional games and more.
Several members of the Indigenous community lectured on traditional powwow happenings. Jancita Warrington of the Menominee and Potawatomi tribes gave an overview of the rich history of the powwow, and educational panels and art showcases were on display in the Lied Center and parking lot.
“Our goal today — with the powwow and all of the educational components — is to foster a greater appreciation of our culture,” Warrington said. “If we allow people to experience our culture … or they learn a little bit more about the dances that they’re about to see, then they get a little bit of a different understanding and perspective.”
Warrington covered everything from the Gourd Dance and Grand Entry to the types of fabrics traditionally worn.
“Sometimes when things are pointed out to us or when we can participate in some of the workshops, we have a greater appreciation for what we see,” Warrington said. “As we learn a little bit more about the cultural intricacies of a tribe, it results in a greater appreciation in the future. And it’ll make for a better day for all our children to be more culturally diverse in the future.”
“Most of this was made for me, but I helped my family make everything,” he said of his outfit. “It takes about half an hour to put everything on.”
Jared Nally of the Myaamia tribe gave a fingerweaving workshop in the Lied Center’s lobby.
Weaving is an integral part of Indigenous history, as it allowed people to carry water, food and other materials before baskets and bottles were invented.
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Chloe Anderson (she/her) contributed to The Lawrence Times from August 2022 through May 2023. She is also published in Climbing magazine, Kansas Reflector and Sharp End Publishing. As a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, Chloe plans to continue her career in photography, rock climbing and writing somewhere out West.
You can view her portfolio, articles and commissioned work here. Check out more of her work for the Times here.