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Cuyamaca College hosting first powwow

Posted on: Jan 29, 2015 1:00:00 AM
In: Cuyamaca, District
Arts and Culture, Campus Life, Featured
Contact: Della Elliott (619) 644-7690

Gourd dancing and Native American arts and crafts, along with fry bread and Indian tacos, will be the order of the day at Cuyamaca College’s first-ever powwow, set for 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 inside the campus gym.

Organized by the new Native American Student Alliance at Cuyamaca College, the event is free and open to the public. The student group hopes to make the powwow an annual event, with the goal to expose the college and public to the cultures and traditions of the region’s Native American tribes, said Teka Tsosie, vice president of the student organization, and coordinator of the event.

“This is a highly anticipated event in the Native American community and one the community can look forward to every year,” said Nora Hinsley, adjunct counselor at Cuyamaca College. Hinsley is a co-adviser for the student alliance, along with Maria Gearhart, a multimedia technician at the college library.

The student group was formed last spring with a mission to promote Native American heritage and to educate others through activities and educational opportunities. The student alliance held its first Native American graduation ceremony last year in the Heritage of the Americas Museum on campus.

A variety of Native American beadwork, jewelry, dream catchers, pottery, shawls and other clothing will be sold, and food and information booths will also be available. But the highlight of any Native American powwow is the music and the colorfully adorned dancers, some who travel long distances to represent their tribe’s traditional styles.

“This powwow is a representation of all tribes – the participants come from various tribal backgrounds throughout the United States and Canada,” said Tsosie, a descendant of the Paiute tribe from Tejon Rancheria in Northern California. “Sometimes, the dancers may be Native American movie stars – this is not known until the time of the powwow.”

One group expected to perform around 4 p.m. is the Kumeyaay Bird Singers, who represent tribes indigenous to the Southern California region. The pairing of the college with the Native American community is a natural, she added, noting that Cuyamaca’s name comes from a Kumeyaay phrase, “Ekwiiyemak,” which has been translated to mean “behind the clouds,” “above the rains,” and “the place where the rain comes from the heavens.”

With a Kumeyaay Studies certificate program, a mentoring program for Native American students, and a Native American dance exhibit put on at the college each fall, Cuyamaca College values its ties to the tribal communities and culture, said President Mark Zacovic.

“We are looking forward to our first powwow with great excitement, and we welcome a new opportunity to strengthen our partnerships with the local tribes,” said President Mark Zacovic.

Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in the community of Rancho San Diego.

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