KU’s First Nations Student Association to host annual powwow, cultures festival

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People will soon gather in Lawrence for a daylong powwow and festival in celebration of Indigenous cultures and traditions.

KU’s First Nations Student Association is organizing its Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival, a free community event set for Saturday, April 13.

Educational workshops and panels are lined up throughout the day, and Indigenous artists and food vendors will have products for sale. Dancers of all ages will perform in styles including traditional, grass, jingle and fancy.

This year marks FNSA’s 35th powwow and seventh cultures festival, according to the event’s website.

Although the public is encouraged to join the powwow, non-Indigenous attendees should be aware of its cultural significance, according to the website. 

“A powwow is not a form of entertainment, it is a way of life,” according to the website. “Collectively the elements of the powwows displayed in song and dance are prayers to the Creator, honoring and celebrating spirituality and freedom, and a connection to the past, present and future.”

Head powwow staff include Tyrin Lasley (Meskwaki/ Dakota), head man dancer; Tamo Thomas (Potawatomi/Kickapoo), head lady dancer; Manny King (Northern Cheyenne/Navajo), master of ceremonies; Jeremy Shield (Crow), arena director; Sharpshooter, host drum; and the Haskell Color Guard.

The first Grand Entry procession is set for noon, and the second is at 6 p.m. People will stand as the Haskell Color Guard carries in flags and dancing begins.

Artist Steven Grounds (Navajo/Creek/Yuchi/Seminole) will kick off the festival by unveiling three murals he created for this year’s event. The murals show contemporary Osage community members who are local educators, according to the website.

Speakers throughout the day will lead a variety of educational workshops, panels and activities. Topics include Native Fashion 101, a panel on Native screenwriters, Native-focused theatre for youth, pine needle basket weaving, historical events and more. Language and literacy activities, featuring books written by Native American authors, coloring pages and sidewalk chalk will be available for children.

The KU FNSA Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13 at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive. It’s free to attend and open to the public.

The powwow will take place outdoors at the newly designated KU Powwow Grounds at the Lied Center, and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs as available seating will be limited, according to the website. View the full schedule for locations and other details for each portion of the event, and a venue map to find your way around.

Organizers are still looking for a few volunteers to help with setup, directing traffic, cleanup and more during the event. Those interested can volunteer on an online SignUp Genius form.

Learn more on the event’s website, fnsapowwow.ku.edu, and Facebook page, KU FNSA Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival.

See coverage of last year’s powwow and festival in this article and this article.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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