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UC San Diego’s Two-day Powwow Celebrates Native American Culture and Heritage


  • Christine Clark

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  • Christine Clark

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An image from the 2011 Powwow at UC San Diego. Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

The University of California, San Diego’s 2nd annual Powwow carrying the theme “Honoring Tradition through Academic Excellence,” has been extended to two days this year, taking place on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 at Muir Field. The campus and local community are invited to celebrate Native American culture with traditional American-Indian food, colorful headdresses and regalia, bird singing, gourd dancing, a Miss UC San Diego Powwow Princess Pageant, a veteran’s recognition ceremony and more.

The success of last year’s Powwow helped establish the event as a new campus tradition, according to UC San Diego junior and Native American Student Association (NASA) treasurer Shunya Wade. “The Powwow last year was such a positive experience,” she said. “We were we able to identify a lot of native students who weren’t involved in NASA, but joined the organization. We’ve really grown and developed since then.”

This year’s Powwow is also the concluding event of UC San Diego’s year-long recognition of California Native American (CANA) Day. The CANA events included a kick-off celebration, the “Akway Nyewa’a: Coming Back Home” photo exhibit, a Native American Film Festival and youth essay and art contest.

The Powwow this year is an essential celebration for UC San Diego, Wade said. “I think the Powwow is an extremely important event. San Diego is home to 18 Native American reservations, more than any other county in the state, and it’s important that we reach out to these communities to let them know we’re accessible.”

The success of last year’s Powwow helped establish the event as a new campus tradition.

This year’s Powwow will feature contests for all ages. Native American college-age females (age 17 to 26) will have the opportunity to compete in the Miss UC San Diego Pageant. The pageant winner will be judged by their talent and for their dedication to academic excellence.  There also will be dancing contests for children (age 0-4 years), juniors (age 5 to 12), teens (age 13 to 17), adults (age 18 to 54) and for “golden” age (age 55+) participants.

Another highlight of the weekend of events will be a special presentation to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox for her support of NASA and the Native American Council at UC San Diego.

“Without the support of Chancellor Fox, the UC San Diego NASA organization would not be where it is today,” said NASA member Kim Dixon. “She has strongly supported our organization by providing a resource center for Native American students and also by encouraging the campus to attend our events.”

The UC San Diego 2nd annual Powwow will take place from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 19 and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, May 20. Authentic Native American cuisine, artwork, jewelry, baskets and more will be available at 9 a.m. both Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20. The Powwow will be open for dancing until 6 p.m. Saturday and there will be dancing contests and specials until 8 p.m. Sunday, May 20. There will be grand entries at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 19 and at noon on Sunday, May 20.

“There will be a lot to see and do at the event,” Wade said. “Any opportunity to attend a cultural event is a good one—it will be a lot of fun and a great way to pay homage to Native American culture.”

For more information on UC San Diego’s 2nd annual Powwow, go to

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