Native American culture is both fun and fascinating, and it was proven this week at the powwow held in the Kelly Gym on Sunday, November 17.


This is the fifth year of the Native American Powwow, and was sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Office of the Executive President, U.S. Ethnic and Indigenous Studies and the Native American Cultural Association with the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA).

Drummers and performers in traditional dress. Heather Burgess photo.
Drummers and performers in traditional dress. Heather Burgess photo.


Professor Joyce Rain Anderson of the English department helps to organize the event each year. She is on the advisory board for the MCNAA, as well as the faculty adviser of the Native American Cultural Association here at Bridgewater State.


“It gets more crowded every year,” Anderson said. “We usually get over 400 people.”


The event was free of charge to faculty and students of Bridgewater State, as long as they had their connect card with them. Otherwise, it was $5 for adults and $3 for children.


The price did not deter the Bridgewater community from attending. It was a family affair, with money going to a good cause and an eye-opening experience.


“The money at the door pays for the drummers and performers. The rest is donations,” Anderson said.


Beyond performers, there were authentic native vendors. Robin Kastanopolous is a vendor, and this was her second powwow as a vendor, though she attended earlier powwows here as a performer.


“All the jewelry and crafts besides the t-shirts and blankets are handmade,” Kastanopolous said.


The same can be said of every other vendor, who sold things from weaved baskets and bracelets, to Native American arrowheads, dream catchers, and more.


Not to leave the children of the Bridgewater community out, there were demonstrations on making pottery, finger-weaving with cloth, and basket-weaving.


The audience was also welcomed out to the floor to dance and chant with Native American performers. Men, women and children all got up and danced around the room, chanting and singing what the performers taught them.


“There are inter-tribal dancers and men’s and women’s traditional dances,” said Anderson. “We also had a grassdancer and a crowhop.”


Don Barnaby is also on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness with Anderson. He is from a First Nation Mi-gmaq Native American reserve in Listuguj, Quebec, Canada.


“This used to be held in the Large Ballroom in the Rondileau Campus Center,” Barnaby said. “It gets bigger every year, with more dancers and vendors.”


Barnaby is a Northern traditional dancer himself, and was dressed in a vibrant pink and purple Native American outfit


Anderson said, “It really transforms the Bridgewater campus Native American for a day.”


Kayla Lemay is a Comment staff writer. Email her at klemay@student.bridgew.edu or follow her on Twitter @klemay123.

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