Oct 312010
Authors: Justin Rampy

Against the backdrop of an unusually warm fall afternoon, the Lory Student Center’s Main ballroom looked out across west campus and onto the foothills of Fort Collins. But inside, the ballroom teemed with Native American culture and spirit.

Attendees of the 28th Annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society, AISES, Powwow came Saturday with travel bags packed full with authentic wear including colorful dresses, moccasins, beads, bells, feathers and headdresses.

At about 1 p.m. they cleared the main dance floor in preparation for the Grand Entry.

Dancers of both genders and all ages entered single file from the corner of the ballroom to take part in the sacred “Grass Dance,” which has held different meanings throughout native tribes, but to all is a ceremonial dance representing grass blowing in harmony with the wind.

After which, the spiritual advisor Lee Plenty Wolf gave the invocation, or prayer, that invited all participants and those in attendance to join the tribes in their blessed celebration.

The rest of the afternoon brought many more dances and song performances, games such as musical chairs and a special powwow feed of buffalo roast that was served to all in attendance.

As an outer-lying feature of the event, several stands were set up to sell Native American memorabilia including: beaded necklaces, earrings, silver bracelets, dream catchers, clothing, moccasins, pelts and a myriad of turquoise jewelry.

Fry bread and fry bread tacos were the main staple for concessions at this year’s event. Fry bread is essentially a sopapilla, served with powdered sugar and honey.

The event’s “Northern Host” was the singer/drummer group Northern Cree, from Saddle Creek Alberta, Canada. AISES brought them down to CSU for this celebration to showcase its talent through the rhythm of its drums and strength of its voices.

Dozens of young Native Americans dressed in tribal formal wear, participated in native dances and began absorbing the traditions of their culture.

Nathaniel Bearsheart, 11, who was adorned with beads and feathers alike, took part in the “Grass Dance,” which he said is his favorite to perform. The Santee Sioux member has danced for five years and lives in Monument, just south of the Denver Metro area.

He “thinks” he has three sisters but he “knows” that he is the only boy in his family, which makes his participation in the traditionally-male “Grass Dance” that much more special to him and his father.

This year was only his second time attending the powwow at CSU, but he plans to return for more.

When asked if the elders think of him as the best young dancer he said, “sometimes yes, but sometimes, nah. Sometimes I have good days and sometimes I have bad days.”

Staff writer Justin Rampy can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:38 pm

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