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Winter Powwow: A Celebration of American Indian Culture

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PORTLAND – Hear the drums beat, taste the bread, view the unique arts and crafts and learn about the American Indian culture all at a day-long festival. Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus will be the site of the inaugural Native American Winter Social Powwow on Saturday, Jan. 22, from noon until midnight at the campus’ gymnasium in the HT Building, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave. The grand entries (ceremonial dances) will entertain at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. sessions with a dinner break at 5:30 p.m. On display will be traditional American Indian arts and crafts, fry bread and raffle prizes.

"The social is known for ceremonial presentations," said Claire Oliveros, PCC coordinator of the Multicultural Center. "We’ll start with the grand entry ceremony where there will be an honoring and blessing of the powwow, like a welcoming."

The winter social powwow came from an idea to offer a community celebration for the American Indian and campus community. It is related to the larger project of raising a totem poll on the Sylvania Campus sometime in October of 2001. The Native American Club, made up of students, faculty and people from the community, has been meeting since last August to organize and coordinate the first-ever Sylvania social powwow, and create interest in American Indian affairs. On Jan. 17, the Native American Club will hold activities leading up to the traditional event like a video presentation and a guest speaker.

Rattling Thunder will headline the day as the powwow’s host drum with Craig Whitehead as the whip man and Arnie Neskahi as the master of ceremonies. The host drum leads the procession of different drummers throughout the day while the whip man controls the flurry of dancers on the floor. The emcee introduces talent and informs the crowd of the powwow’s menu of festivities. There will be 11 drummers with dancers throughout the 12 hours. While the dancers and drummers provide the entertainment, the 15 to 20 vendors hope to raise enough money to help support American Indian activities on the PCC campuses. They include local American Indian vendors that sell wares and traditional food like fry bread. Oliveros said the vendors are critical for a festive powwow and has received calls all from all over Oregon and parts of Washington from people wanting to be a part of the powwow.

"Vendors are symbolic to powwows," Oliveros said. "It’s the community sharing and all of the money goes into key areas like supporting the Native American community monetarily. It’s an opportunity for PCC to provide support to the Native American community and students that are here. It’s a great recruitment for outreach and to demonstrate PCC’s commitment to cultural awareness and understanding."

For more information on the powwow, contact Claire Oliveros at 503-977-4112 or Rowan Wolf at 503-977-4083.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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