When people ask me what ethnicity I am, my response always is “I know I am Native American!” But after Clark’s Native American celebration I attended on November 4th, I do not think that the response is appropriate. I attended the Pow Wow at Clark College, and it opened up my eyes in so many different ways. It allowed me to see just a small glimpse of the dedication, sacrifice, and respect they have given to their Native American culture and heritage.
The event started out with a blessing of the food. Everyone was silent except the two people giving the blessing. It was so peaceful and was such a great way to start out the night. After eating, I was able to walk around and look at all the amazing vendors. Jewelry was definitely the most popular, but every single piece was different. Creative talent was everywhere in the room. Then the singing and dancing started, which ended up being my favorite part of the event. The songs were so loud it was overpowering, but at the same time not ear piercing. I found out that the different tribes have their own variation of Native American dancing. Children danced, elders danced, men and women, you name it. The whole event felt like a community that was there to learn or teach about a culture they love.
Respect was a huge message I took away from the Pow Wow. The phrase “respect your elders” wasn’t just a phrase that evening. Elders were fed first when the food was served. There was also specific seats that were reserved for elders’ in the front and center of the event. Another group of people who were highly respected, and deserve it, were the veterans who attended the Pow Wow. At the start of the singing and dance portion of the event the speaker called all veterans and sang a song just for them. After the song was over, they took the time to introduce every veteran and allowed them time to tell their story.
After this event, it made me realize how little I know about cultures, even the one that I say I am a part of. I can’t say enough how important it is to attend events on campus especially when they are open to you. Be opened minded to new ways of living. Respect everyone, especially the ones who worked for that respect. Learn outside of your lectured classes about what is happening all around you.
I will be attending the Pow Wow next year, and hope to see all of you there as well!