Native American women and men in dance regalia at the 46th ISU powwow.Jenna Crowe

Staff Writer

People line the bleachers as dancers take center stage, moving to the beat of the drums.

Celebration fills the air while the healing powers of grand entry unfold at the 46th ISU Pow wow.

The student group Native Americans United invited community members to Reed Gym March 31 and April 1 to experience a celebration of Native American culture.

This free event began 25 years ago to get Native Americans involved with ISU and the surrounding community.

“It’s good for the community and our culture,” said Jessica Rodriguez, NAU president. “It’s a way not to let it die.”

As president, Rodriguez is the head of the committee and organizes the dancers, concessions and the head staff.

She began her involvement in 2016.

The pow wow featured various dancing categories such as jingle, fancy and grass in junior, teen and adult divisions.

“People can actually win money in some events if they get first, second or third,” Rodriguez said. “So it’s a little incentive for them.”

A favorite category among participants is grand entry.Group of Native American adults and children in dance regalia dancing at the 46th ISU powwow.

“I love grand entry,” said head lady Kayla Marshall. “Everyone comes out and it feels like we are one soul dancing together, and that positive energy radiates to the crowd.”

As head lady, Marshall leads female dancers into the circle and in the performance.

She first got involved with the NAU in 2009.

Dancers dress in traditional garb featuring parts of different animals, such as eagle feathers and otter fur, which are said to help people heal, according to Marshall.

December Ariwite, a NAU member since she attended ISU, competed in women’s fancy and jingle this year.

A jingle dress, also called a prayer dress, is seen as an object to bring healing to the sick. While each tribe has differences in the origin of its jingle dress, it can be traced back to the Northern tribe Ojibewea or Chippewa along the Canadian border.

Traditional jingle dresses are decorated with rolled-up snuff lids hung with ribbons. These jingles hit together during the dance, mimicking the sound of rainfall.

“This is something my family has done,” Ariwite said, “so it’s something I grew up with.”

One of her favorite memories is traveling to different pow wows with her family.

“This gives people a positive outlook and helps them focus in life,” Marshall said.

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