Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 33rd Annual UCLA Pow Wow
Colors swirl, feathers sway, and drums beat to a steady rhythm, as Native American tribes give thanks to their creator. The performers danced at UCLA's North Athletic Field for the 33rd Annual UCLA Pow Wow this Sunday, May 6.
People of all ages performed multiple indigenous dances, vendors set up tents with numerous Native American merchandise, and speakers came to commemorate the occasion. Larry Brown, who comes from the Apache tribe and resides in San Carlos, was one of those who shared his appreciation for the annual event. "Every year we look forward to this Pow Wow, and a lot of us Indian people, we live in the urban area and you can't go home all the time to practice your tradition," Brown said. "We want to go home to practice our tradition but we can't, but the Indian students here have this every year."
A Pow Wow is a North American Indian ceremony involving feasting, singing, and dancing. The event had all of the above after organizers planned and made preparations many days in advance. The UCLA American Indian Student Association organized the event, with UCLA student Tekpatl Kuauhtzin being the head coordinator for the 33rd annual Pow Wow.
"As coordinator, I have to coordinate with the head staff. The head are all the people we sort of vote on and agree to bring out to the Pow Wow." Kuauhtzin said. "As students, we can't do it alone. This requires a lot of professional help, these are people who have been doing it for years, the elders."
Although the message of this event was clear - to save and witness Native American culture - there was a laid-back atmosphere that made all attendees feel at ease. UCLA student Riya Patel was seen shopping around the numerous tents set up and said, "These events are important. You see another person's culture. it's important to admire diversity." Patel also highlighted what she liked about the celebration. "I really like the different booths and also how they separated the shopping from the actual event where they have like music and dancing."
The event wrapped up prior to 6 p.m., and while participants expressed enjoyment of the festivities, this event's purpose served to show indigenous people's existence in Los Angeles. "For us, it's just about our culture, here at UCLA our native population is only 0.04-percent, were not even a full percentage and we host the second largest event on campus," Kuauhtzinhe said. "A lot of our people are being erased right now [and] a lot of people don't even know Native American people still exist. That's a question that we get asked a lot here at Pow Wow - Are you guys real Indians? Are you guys actually native people? Do Native people actually exist still? Because a lot of people think that we have been wiped out, but I think Pow Wow is an example of our resiliency and how we managed to survive."