Inaugural pow wow draws thousands to University of Redlands

More than 200 dancers from regional tribes participated in the University of Redlands' first-ever pow wow.

The sounds of Native drumming carried throughout the University of Redlands this weekend as an inaugural Pow Wow celebrating indigenous culture was held on campus.

About 260 dancers from across the United States and Canada gathered for the two-day celebration, which brought out more than 2,000 people to the university to learn more of Native American tribes.

“A powwow is not a performance,” said Nora Pulskamp, pow wow coordinator. “Singers and dancers and their friends and family are participating in a traditional gathering. So in this way, it is a very special learning opportunity for everyone who comes because even people who are watching are participating in the event.”

The event, which was hosted by the U of R’s Native Student Programs and the Native American Resource Center based out of San Bernardino, featured Native American dancers, drum groups and singers from regional and tribes of the United States.

The pow wow was launched to help build a Native American community on campus, Pulskamp said, as well as build ties with off campus native communities.

For a university to host a pow wow it’s a huge opportunity to bring native people to the campus to gain familiarity with the campus,” said Pulskamp.  “It’s also important for the native students that go to school here to see themselves reflected in the programming thats happening at their school.”

It also provides an opportunity for the larger campus community to learn about the Native culture first-hand, she added.

Each session of the powwow opened with bird dancing, which are the traditions of the local tribes from Southern California. Local spiritual leaders also offered blessings, Pulskamp said, “as way to remind people of the special relationship we have with the land we’re on.”

“A lot of people take for granted that they’re here on this really nice campus and they lose sight that this was someone’s holy land–it was their birthplace of the people they’re a part of,” Pulskamp said. “We try to make sure we include the Serrano and Cahuilla people as much as possible in all our programming.”


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