On April 23, the Georgetown Native American Student Council (NASC) held their fourth annual Native American Pow Wow on Copley Lawn to celebrate Native American culture and spread awareness of the group.
Mikaela Bledsoe Downes (MSB ’16), President of NASC, commented that this was both the Pow Wow’s and the NASC’s fourth year in existence, and that both are continuing to grow this year. She said that attendees, dancers, singers, and vendors came from Georgetown, the greater D.C. area, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Even some vendors who wanted to come had to be turned away due to lack of space.
Bledsoe Downes admitted that growing the club on campus was difficult and felt that the busy culture of Georgetown prevented students from exploring smaller groups like hers unless they really identified with Native American culture. She said NASC has about 15 active members. Bledsoe Downes hopes that events like these will help shed light on the organization.
“Awareness is the number one thing,” said Bledsoe Downes. “A lot of people stop by just on their walk through Healy Lawn. [The Pow Wow] is just to bring awareness to the club, to the group, to Native life and culture.”
The crowd of the event included a mix of Native Americans from the local area as well as Georgetown students. Dancers in traditional outfits and plumed headdresses danced to the beat of drums played by the Medicine Horse Singers and the Zotigh Singers, two traveling Native American drum groups. Vendors sold food on the side. Before each dance, the audience was informed of the background and dance type by MC Dennis Zotigh of the Zotigh Singers. Although the Pow Wow’s start, the “Grand Entry,” was delayed for an hour due to rain, the rest of the afternoon saw clear skies.
One attendee, a D.C. local named Shelly, has attended most of the 12 or so Pow Wows that are held in the area every year. She said that the Georgetown Pow Wow measured up very well to those other events. Shelly reiterated the hope that the event would bring more awareness to the Native community, but also said that the dance is a chance for local natives to come together and celebrate culture, not only a performance for non-Native Americans.
Near the end of the Pow Wow, MC Dennis Zotigh gathered the student organizers of the NASC to the front of the dance circle to thank them for their efforts in bringing the community together, an effort that included almost a year of planning.
“In order to make this possible, [these students] have been working tirelessly, raising funds so that they could accommodate each and every one of you today,” said Zotigh. “[They have] been working very hard behind the scenes getting ready for this special day in which they honor all Native people.”
The students were honored with a special dance from the head male and female dancer afterwards and all audience members were welcomed to participate. The Pow Wow ended for the day, but the NASC hopes to bring it back for its fifth year.