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American Indian Awareness Week comes to SCSU

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The American Indian Center has a week full of events planned for American Indian Awareness Week, starting Monday, April 6.

American Indian Awareness Week begins at 11:30 a.m. on Monday in Atwood’s Alumni Room with Professional Artist and Indigenous Media Advocate Missy Whiteman coming to SCSU to talk about her career, and give an art presentation.

The following day, “Our Fires Still Burn,” released in 2013 and directed by Audrey Geyer, will show at 10 a.m. in Atwood. Continuing into Wednesday, the American Indian Center partnered with Veteran Services to hold a panel discussion about military services.

“We have over 900 veterans that attend St. Cloud State. Well, some of them are American Indian,” director of the American Indian Center James Knutson-Kolodzne said. “We’re going to have a panel of American Indians to answer this question, ‘why do American Indians serve in the U.S. Military for a country that was stolen from them?’”

Nearing the powwow, Darlene St. Clair, director of the Multicultural Resource Center, will go through “Powwows 101” starting at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Mississippi Room. “Powwows 101” is aimed at giving information about powwows, along with what to expect and etiquette while attending.

Other topics covered include the various types of dances and dancers that will be featured, and the various venders and food that will be at the event.

The evening before the powwow at 6 p.m., volunteers will begin building the Arbor in the gym at Halenbeck.

“We build a traditional Arbor made out of wood, we lash it together, and it’s an Arbor that the drums groups sit underneath during the powwow,” Knutson-Kolodzne said. “It takes about three hours for 20 to 25 people to build.”

“It’s a chance for native and non-native students to take part in building the Arbor, and to take part in the event.”

Saturday, the annual spring powwow has its first grand entry at 1 p.m., and is expected to run until 11 p.m. that evening. The powwow is a traditional event, meaning dancers aren’t competing and it’s free and open to the public.

“Our powwows are pretty big cultural events, and social events,” Knutson-Kolodzne said. “We get about 1,000 people to the powwow, coming and going.”

“When you put on a powwow, it attracts Indians; Indians that are going to school here, Indians in the community, and Indians from all over the state,” he said. “Anytime you do cultural events for a specific cultural, they identify with it, they get a stronger sense of self, they feel better, [and] they do better in school and stay here.”

The American Indian Center provides academic and non-academic support for American Indian students on campus, and put various cultural and social events throughout the year.

During the powwow, since it’s a tradition in many American Indian cultures, buffalo and wild rice will be served around 5 p.m. The meal is free and open to everybody. The event will feature four to seven drums, along with drum groups of about six people per drum. Knutson-Kolodzne said that he hopes to have over 200 dancers this year.

“Powwows are more or less a family reunion for Indians,” he said. “Indian people don’t mind people watching what they’re doing, powwows serve a purpose for Indian People to meet family and friends again, make new friends, learn and interact with other Indians.”

“We just want to share some of our culture with you.”

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