Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Wesley Thomas
First Nations at IU

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2003

First Nations at IU to hold pow wow at Bloomington on March 28-30

EDITORS: Publication-quality photographs of last year's inaugural IU Pow Wow are available on the Web at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In a flourish of traditional drums, dancing and regalia, Native Americans again will gather at Indiana University Bloomington on March 28-30 to share history, culture and arts at the First Nations at Indiana University Pow Wow. All events will be open to the public, and admission will be free.

The pow wow will include nearly 40 booths of authentic American Indian arts and crafts, as well as an extensive educational display of research posters created by IU students. A highlight will be performances by drum groups, singers and gourd dancers, and the ceremonial "grand entries" of American Indians representing tribes from across the United States into the IU Fieldhouse for traditional dancing. Native American food will be available for purchase.

The pow wow events will begin in the IU Fieldhouse at 6 p.m. on March 28, at noon on March 29 and at 11 a.m. on March 30. There will be a one-hour break in activities on March 29 from 5 to 6 p.m. The Fieldhouse is located at the corner of 17th Street and Fee Lane on the north side of the Bloomington campus.

The event is being presented by the American Indian Student Association and First Nations at Indiana University.

Wesley Thomas, IU assistant professor of anthropology and organizer of the event, said the pow wow is a pan-Indian function that is at once sacred and social. It is an opportunity for remembrance and renewal for the traditional American Indian, a way to revisit the beliefs and traditions of ancestors.

Thomas, who is Navajo, said that having the pow wow at IU Bloomington also is important as an educational opportunity for the university community and the public.

At the IU Pow Wow, observers can look to Kickapoo Rice, a Sac-Fox tribal member from Quapaw, Okla., who will be master of ceremonies, and Steve Yazzie, a Navajo Indian who will be arena director, for commentary that will explain pow wow tradition and etiquette.

The dancing cannot happen without the drum, an essential part of American Indian culture. The pow wow will include northern and southern host drums. The northern drum features the faster drum beat and higher-pitched singers that are characteristic of northern American Indian tribes, while the southern drum represents the slower beat and lower pitch of southern tribes.

This is a closed pow wow, and only all Native American drums and dancers are welcome to perform with the host and invited drums. At times the general audience will be invited to dance. TreeTown of Ann Arbor, Mich., will be the northern host drum and Moccasin Trail of Mooresville, Ind., will be the southern host drum. Clyde M. Hall, a Shoshone-Bannock from Fort Hall, Idaho, will be the head male dancer, and Ramona Foye, a Comanche/Sac-Fox/Pawnee from Mooresville, Ind., will be the female head dancer. The IU ROTC Color Guard will serve as flag bearers.

As has become traditional at pow wows, the Gourd Dance will be performed as a prelude to each of the four scheduled grand entries. All Native American dances have a special meaning, and the Gourd Dance, originated by the Kiowa, is a warrior's dance.

The Grand Entry will follow a specific order with American Indian veterans of the U.S. military leading the processional in native regalia and with American, state and tribal flags. Older men, who will dance the traditional dances of their various tribes, will follow, and then will come the younger men, who will dance more contemporary dances.

On the evening of March 29, the pow wow will recognize the efforts by three Hoosiers of Native American ancestries who have been instrumental in bringing recognition of American Indian people to the state of Indiana. Being recognized will be Sally Tuttle of Kokomo, Ind.; Rebecca Martin of Indianapolis; and Debora Haza of Columbus, Ind.

People attending their first pow wow should be aware of basic etiquette, which, according to Thomas, is mostly simple respect and common sense. For example, ask permission before taking photos of dancers before, during or after dances. Flashes are distracting, and some dances are sacred and should never be photographed. Also, a dancer's clothing is a treasure, an expression of history, with some regalia handed down through generations. Always ask permission to touch regalia.

The pow wow is being sponsored by the IU Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Diversity, the IU Office of Research and the University Graduate School, the IU Office of Multicultural Affairs, the IU Department of Anthropology and the Office of the Chancellor.

For those coming from out of town, information about lodgings and RV parking is available from the Bloomington Visitors Bureau at 800-800-0037 or

For more information about the pow wow, contact Thomas at 812-855-3862 or Information also is available at