Apr 172005
Authors: Sara Crocker

Mitakuye Oyasin.

We are all connected.

That was the theme of the 23rd annual Native American Student Association Powwow, "Heartbeat of One People," over the weekend.

The powwow, which took place at Moby Arena, attracted more than 100 students and 350 community members. It featured competitive dancing, drumming, traditional food and a number of booths for vendors and the different departments at CSU.

Powwows in the past have been held in the Lory Student Center, but NASA worked to return the powwow to Moby.

"We managed to get it back in Moby, which is a big deal," said CSU President Larry Penley. He said he attended the powwow not only to support the Native American students, but also to enjoy the events. He said he and his wife occasionally attended powwows when they lived in Arizona.

But some who have attended other annual powwows around the nation were a bit disappointed with the turnout of the crowd.

"This one's been going on for 23 years; they should have the following," said artist Nelson Garcia, who had a booth selling handcrafted jewelry.

Garcia, who is from Arizona, said this was the first time he had attended the CSU powwow. He said his sales would determine if he returns to the powwow next year.

But Aschenbrenner suggested that increased gas prices may be a reason why there were fewer people coming.

Regardless of the crowd, most who attended were still impressed with the powwow.

Courtney Walz, who had never been to a powwow before, said she had a great time and would go again next year.

"It's really awesome," said Walz, a Fort Collins resident. "It gives you goose bumps, the drums and the dancers. It's really spiritual."

Most organizers were pleased with the turnout and especially proud of NASA for all the work they did to put on the powwow.

"NASA did an outstanding job," said Doug Foote, the powwow's spiritual adviser and the lead singer of the Goodfeather Drum Group.

The events for both days were centered on the different dance competitions. The competitions were broken up by age group, ranging from Tiny Tots to Golden Age, and by dance style.

Each dancer's tribal regalia, or dress, depended on the style of dance.

The men's Fancy Dance regalia are the most elaborate, with bright colors and bustles, or horseshoe-shaped rows of feathers, resting on the dancer's shoulders and hips.

The women's jingle dresses, worn for the Jingle Dance, are also striking with bright colors and rows of metal cones sewn around the dress. The cones used to be made from old snuffboxes.

The regalia is generally handmade and passed down. Feathers from birds of prey, intricate bead work and bells are common.

Although dances vary in style and tempo, they all depend on the drums and keeping beat with the rhythm.

"The drum is very much the focal piece of the day," said Stan Aschenbrenner, a fancy dancer from Parker. Aschenbrenner, an alumnus of CSU, said he has been dancing competitively for about 20 years.

Each of the competitions had cash prizes; the biggest was $300 for first place. Generally a person or group will sponsor an individual dance and donate the money for the winners, said Todd MacAlady, treasurer for NASA and civil engineering and construction management graduate student.

The winners are determined by a point system. Dancers could also receive additional points for participating in other dances throughout the day.

Seraphina Wall, Native American Student Services program coordinator and a senior sociology and criminal justice major, said she used to dance competitively.

"I miss it," she said. "If I had all of my stuff, definitely I'd be out there."

Wall said the powwow gave her a feeling of home.

A number of other powwow attendants were alumni of the university.

"When I hear CSU's going to have a powwow I always come," said Deborah Wadena, a Fort Collins resident who attended CSU from 1991 to 1994. "It's my home powwow."

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