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Crowd jams gymnasium for 16th powwow
Photos and Story by James Hill
It’s hard to imagine that PCC’s annual celebration of Native American culture and tradition turned 16 this month.
The teen years haven’t taken anything away from the powwow, which featured drum groups and dancers from across the region, Native American crafts and food, activities for children, and raffle prizes. More than 1,000 visitors attended the event on Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Sylvania Campus.
For interim Sylvania Campus President Suzanne Johnson, it wasn’t her 16th powwow, but her first. Johnson came to PCC last summer to fill the Sylvania Campus president position on an interim basis. She had been the interim dean of the college and co-chair of the accreditation review committee for Dowling College in New York.
“A powwow is for the people,” she told the crowd. “For the people to come together, to celebrate their rich culture. To dance and to sing and to drum. To share the meaning of tradition, to learn from the elders, to build new friendships and to celebrate the success of young ones. One of the goals of this day centers on young people. Not only does Powwow enlighten visitors about Native American heritage, the event offers inspiration, fellowship and encouragement to Native American students at PCC as they work towards their goals in higher education.”
Proceeds from the powwow support the Native American Student Scholarship, which aims to increase access and retention of Native American students at PCC. Various raffles on the floor of the powwow raised additional fund for the scholarship. PCC President Jeremy Brown added that the day was one to preserve and honor Oregon’s rich Native American communities.
“It’s an event that brings together the Native community – and the many communities PCC serves – to celebrate beauty and spirit in a day here at the Sylvania Campus. Such diversity is the hallmark of community colleges in general – and PCC in particular,” he said. “The college is made up of students, staff and faculty who bring a remarkable array of cultures, histories and experiences with them to our campuses. These differences of perspective are critical tools for learning; they help us to understand more about our world and ourselves.