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NEWS RELEASE

04/15/92

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558

Annual powwow to honor strength of Native American cultures

STANFORD -- "500 Years: Honoring the Strength and Persistence of Native Cultures," will be the theme of the 21st annual Stanford powwow, to be held May 8-10 on the large field adjacent to Stanford Stadium.

Hosted by the Stanford American Indian Organization, the Stanford powwow is one of the largest Indian gatherings on the West Coast, drawing participants from throughout the United States and Canada. In recent years, attendance has been more than 20,000 for the three days.

There is no charge for admission, parking or camping space. In addition to viewing the dances, visitors can browse through art, craft, souvenir, information and food booths.

The celebration of traditional song and dance will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, May 8, with the grand entry of dancers, and continue until midnight. On Saturday, May 9, the powwow will run from 10 a.m. until midnight, with grand entries at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Sunday, May 10, the powwow will run from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., with a grand entry at 1 p.m.

The powwow, the largest annual multicultural event at Stanford, is organized entirely by students. A dozen students begin planning each spring's powwow the previous October. The budget comes primarily from donations and booth rentals.

American Indians will compete in dance categories that include:

  • Women's Fancy Shawl. This style of dance is fluid with intricate footwork. The women dance with shawls draped over their shoulders, and the movement of the shawl's fringe becomes an integral part of the dance.
  • Women's Northern and Southern Traditional. This dance is in honor of the important role women play in Native American society. It also is called "traditional buckskin" because the women often wear beaded buckskin dresses with bone breastplates.
  • Men's Grassdance. Grassdancing began as a social, religious and healing dance. The outfits consist mostly of yarn. Grassdance is much fancier than traditional dances but incorporates traditional movements.
  • Men's Northern and Southern Fancy. Dancers wear two bustles on their backs -- one high on the shoulders, another below it. They are judged primarily on footwork.
  • Men's Traditional. When Plains warriors returned home, they reenacted their feats of bravery in these dances. Northern Traditional dancers wear one bustle of eagle feathers, while Southern Straight dancers wear an otter hide.

There will be two drum groups: a Northern style from Morley, Alberta, Canada, and a Southern style from Tulsa, Okla.

The Stanford American Indian Organization includes 140 American Indian and Alaska native undergraduate and graduate students, and also American Indian staff members.

-tj-

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