American Indian groups throughout the state came to honor all nations at the 38th Annual Pow Wow in the Union Ballroom Saturday.
According to Samantha Toman, a dancer at the event and member of the American Indian Student Services, a pow wow is when all Native Americans gather to perform their dances and show their regalia.
“We’re a big family,” said Toman.
People of all ages were dressed up in colorful regalia, dancing to the beat of the drums and voices of the drummers. Everyone was welcomed to dance around the large circle surrounding the groups of drummers. Milwaukee Senator Lena Taylor also made an appearance to the event.
There were six groups of drummers that participated in the Pow Wow: Grass Whistle, from Madison, Wisconsin; Eagle Singers, from Oneida, Wisconsin; Cloud Boy, from Wisconsin Dells; Little Bear, from Lyndon Station, Wisconsin; Ho-Chunk Station, from Lyndon Station, Wisconsin and Indian Heights, from Wisconsin Dells.
The pow wow began with a Grand Entry; The dancers were introduced to the circle as drummers played. Veterans entered the circle first, followed by the female and male main dancers. Entering the circle last was the Grass dancers, Traditional and Fancy dancers.
There were several tables that were selling necklaces, earrings and beads. The Milwaukee Indian Education Committee had a bake sale to raise money for a scholarship for students.
The main dancers were Samantha Toman and Sky Hopinka. Both dancers are UWM graduates and have been dancing since a very young age.
Toman is from the Bad River band, Lake Superior Chippewa tribe. She has been dancing since she was 2-years-old and this was her second appearance at the annual pow wow.
When Toman spoke of dancing, she gestured towards her heart and said, “It comes from in here when you are dancing, and when that beat goes out for me that’s what helps me is my heart and soul goes out onto that floor. I usually don’t think of anyone in the audience out here. It’s just me and the drum.”
Coordinator Diane Amour of the American Indian Student Services said this annual pow wow is to represent the American Indian culture on campus. She said everybody is a part of the circle and that no one is excluded.
Toman said this event is Tmeant to reach out to others and educate others on why and how Native Americans dance.
“We still appreciate who we are and we’ll still keep doing this,” said Toman.
To view a photo gallery of the event, click here.