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PCC Winter Powwow a community event
Photos and Story by James Hill
Crystal Rogers is a student coordinator with the Multicultural Center, planning events to help promote and honor diversity. She also is working hard to reinstate the Sylvania Campus’ Native American Student Club. And she is a cast member in the social justice theater group called Illumination Project.
But there is something the sociology and political science major hasn’t done yet – attend the college’s annual Winter Powwow. So, of course, she will get to work and lead student volunteers for the event in January, making sure powwow vendors are taken care of.
"It’s a really important community event," Rogers said. "I think it is a great opportunity for Native Americans and the community to enjoy a cultural event. It shows what it means to be Native American because each group represented will have their own heritage and backgrounds on display. It’s an opportunity for the community to come and enjoy a rich cultural event."
The ninth annual Portland Community College Traditional Winter Powwow (Wacipi) will run from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, in the HT Building at the Sylvania Campus. The event is free and open to the public. Parking also is free.
Thanks to a grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), the powwow will feature the artist Andrew "One’ staa" Morrison of the Haida and Apache nations. He will conduct a mural art demonstration and exhibit his work from 10 a.m. to noon. A silent auction of works by other Native artists runs from 4 to 8 p.m. at the powwow.
The main staples of the event include grand entries at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., a college fair from noon to 4 p.m. and community dinner at 5:30 p.m. The powwow will feature master of ceremonies David West (Potawatomi, Miami and Kickapoo nations), arena director Ed Goodell (Confederated Tribes of Siletz), Northwest Indian Veterans Association Color Guard, Native American merchandise vendors, and Native American food like fry bread and tacos.
For more information about the powwow, call the Multicultural Center at (503) 977-4112.
Brooke Gondara, division dean for Social Sciences, Business and Real Estate, says the Winter Powwow is a way to build community thanks to partnerships between Portland Community College, the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA) and the Northwest Regional Education Service District Title VII.
"NARA is a huge partner," Gondara said. "They support the powwow’s community meal through their donation and understand the importance of culture. The ESD supports Indian education programs in Hillsboro. Native students who come through their pipeline are potential students for us and, thanks to the powwow, they get a chance to explore the possibility of educational change in their lives."
Students like the 24-year-old Rogers. The event hits close to home for the Juneau, Alaska native, who is a member of the Tlingit Tribe in Northwest Alaska. Along with her twin sister and nephew, Rogers moved to Portland a year ago to go to school and experience what life is like in the lower 48 states. She found PCC a welcoming place and a perfect college to help her accomplish her future goals.