On Saturday afternoon, excited chatter and the sounds of song and dance filled Reid Arena. Food was served, and attendees mingled to share their thoughts.
The cause for all the festivities was the Native American Student Union’s Colorado College Powwow. The event was held annually for many years and then stopped for a while in early 2000. This is the third year in a row that it has been held since then. The event was free and open to the public.
“When I was at CC, the first Powwow we started was in 1991 or 1992,” event coordinator Sonlatsa “Sunshine” Jim-Martin ’94 said. “The Powwow continued for a couple of years after I left, but it stopped. When my daughter [Zunneh-bah Martin ‘19] got to CC as a freshman, she wanted to bring the Powwow back to campus and asked me to help her coordinate it again.”
Jim-Martin was motivated to start the CC Powwow as a student, and she received support from the campus and greater community in the process.
“Some of my Powwow family from the Denver March Powwow encouraged me to start a Powwow at CC,” Jim-Martin said. “They supported me and we starting planning with the Native American students on campus and Indigenous community members from Colorado Springs. We planned closely with Rochelle Mason, who was then the Director of Minority Student Life at CC.”
One of Jim-Martin’s goals for the Powwow was to help spark unity among Native American students on campus. “I am most excited about the community coming together to support our Native American students at CC,” he said. “It is rare to see Native Americans on the CC campus, and it is truly a special feeling when you see your own indigenous people come together on campus. It makes Native American students feel closer to home, family, relatives, and our culture.”
The Powwow was a day-long event that featured many different activities throughout the day, including a morning blessing and a gourd dance exhibition. Additionally, Native American vendors and information booths were available to event participants.
“Everything about the Powwow was incredible: the dancing, the drumming, the singing, and the food,” said Becca Parks ‘21. “But the best thing was being able to connect with other Native people from all around Colorado and New Mexico. I even talked with the emcee for the Powwow, John, who knows my family and actually calls us family, so it was really nice to make that connection.”
CC’s NASU is led by Brando Edwards ‘20 and Mateo Parsons ‘19. They have weekly meetings at the Southwest Studies House on Cascade Avenue. Additionally, NASU hosts other large events on campus throughout the year. “We discuss articles, eat good food, and check in with each other,” Parks said. “People are welcome to come hangout, listen, and be respectful.”
Jim-Martin was excited to bring the community closer together last weekend and is already looking forward to their upcoming events and next year’s Powwow. “Next year will be our fourth Powwow, and we hope the event continues after my daughter graduates,” Jim-Martin said. “I am sure it will because we are active CC Alumni.”