Northland College will officially proclaim the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), as Indigenous People’s Day Saturday at its annual Spring Powwow held on campus in the Chapple Gymnasium.
President Michael A. Miller will read the proclamation at the start of the 1 p.m. grand entry, joining a dozen other colleges in the United States to do the same. Miller will be joined by Nez Perce tribal member and Northland College trustee Jaime Pinkham.
“This proclamation will set the stage for surrounding communities to unite in support of Indigenous community members to recognize how history was written, and use that day instead as an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous diversity and resiliency,” said Northland College Indigenous Cultures Center (ICC) Director Katrina Werchouski.
The proclamation is just the beginning. The ICC, Native American Student Association (NASA), and other powwow organizers have added several new features this year designed to educate attendees about the deep history behind ceremonial dancing at powwows as well as issues affecting Indigenous communities today.
Head female dancer Carolyn Gougé will lead a Pink Shawl Dance, a special dance aimed at honoring and healing those affected by cancer in all its forms, including victims, patients, survivors, family and friends. Gouge is a breast cancer survivor. The Pink Shawl Coalition was founded in 2007 by a Wisconsin group of Native American women who hoped to raise awareness about especially high breast cancer trends in Indigenous communities across the country.
Now, in its seventh year as a registered nonprofit, the Pink Shawl Coalition participates in powwow outreach across the state and country to increase utilization of screening services and exams while also providing support for patience and education for the greater community.
Organizers have also added the Switch Dance, another dance aimed at education. The Switch Dance remembers the high renown and honor given to gender-fluid Two-Spirit People, an ancient theme seen in different Indigenous cultures across the continent.
As its name implies, the Switch Dance has both genders trade movements, a challenge when Men’s and Women’s traditional dancing are particularly distinct. The Switch Dance also serves to highlight the historic roots of Two Spirit People while contributing to modern society’s conversation about gender roles.
NASA and the ICC will welcome back Big Red, an energetic men’s group of drummers from Ho Chunk Nation, featured across the state at regional Powwow celebrations. Mark Denning of the Oneida Nation, will emcee and provide running education on traditional powwow protocols and history. Additional resources for etiquette education include booklets available at the entrances.
In addition, there will be an increased number of veteran Color Guard, who are tribal members, from the local American Legion Post, VFW, and American Legion Auxiliary, to help pay honor to veterans and active duty military. The annual graduate song, as always, will honor those in attendance who are graduating—no matter their degree or school.
Grand entry is at 1 p.m., 7 p.m. with free community feast at 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public. This event is drug and alcohol free event.
For more information visit www.northland.edu/icc or email ICC Director Katrina Werchouski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.