Group holds sixth Native American powwow on campus

Josh Willis

The UT Native American and Indigenous Collective held its sixth Spring Powwow at the East Mall on Saturday.

Powwows are Native American community gatherings that often involve singing and dancing, and the UT powwow usually serves as a showcase of various types of Native American traditions, such as religious and competitive dancing. The five-hour event was open to all members of the community and aimed to expose others to indigenous traditions.

“The entire event is a huge appreciation and celebration of the culture,” Mexican American studies senior Jacob Barrios said. “It’s a good way to share and teach because not many people are familiar with different aspects of Native American culture. … Not everybody gets exposed to this every day.”

In addition to song and dance, the event featured Native American literature and food. Civil engineering sophomore Kristian Byrd and her family sold traditional Navajo-style tacos. Byrd said even the bread used for the tacos is unique to her family’s roots.

“We’re Navajo, so we usually make our bread pretty big,” Byrd said. “That’s something different. Instead of Indian tacos, they’ll say Navajo tacos.”

Powwows often present an opportunity to share indigenous culture with members of a broader community, according to Lakota Pochedley, curriculum and instruction graduate student.

“My sophomore year [at Columbia University], we planned our annual powwow, and it was just a really great event where students could come together,” Pochedley said.

The Native American and Indigenous Collective attempts to hold a powwow annually, but Pochedley said the group hasn’t held the event in recent years because of logistical and organizational complications.

Despite the difficulties involved in planning large-scale events, Pochedley said she believes powwows have a lot to offer to the community.

Latin American studies sophomore Susana Hart said she considered the powwow a learning opportunity. 

“I think it’s just really nice to be able to walk around and see this kind of diversity on campus, and it really opens your eyes to the world that we live in,” Hart said.

Hart said understanding other cultures is what brought her to UT to major in Latin American studies and is what helps bring the many ethnic groups on campus together.

“Really being able to learn about other cultures is really important because many times, we don’t really know about other people and what their culture is all about,” Hart said. “It lets us be more compassionate with each other as human beings.”