Celebrating A Culture

For the second year in a row, Heritage University’s two Native American student clubs kicked off the start of fall semester in grand style. Less than a week after classes began, the American Indian Business Leaders of Heritage University (AIBL) and the Heritage University Native American Club (HUNAC) jointly hosted the second annual All Nations Student Powwow on the Heritage campus.

The event brought approximately 500 people to campus for a one-day powwow that featured drumming and dancing competitions, as well as vendors selling everything from Indian fry bread tacos and homemade pies to handcrafted jewelry, traditional beading and other merchandise.

“Heritage University is located on the ancestral lands of the Yakama Nation,” said Brenda Lewis, president of AIBL. “The powwow is a great way to celebrate and share the rich culture of the Yakama people with our community.”

Dancers of all ages competed in men’s and women’s traditional, fancy, grass and jingle dance competitions—from tiny tots (children who are under five years old) to adults over 55. Several honor dances and intertribal dances, special dances where people from all different cultures are invited to participate, also took place, as did a special blanket dance that raised money for the Dr. Russell Jim Scholarship Fund.

Eight different drum groups, one from as far away as Idaho, competed for cash prizes.

The Toppenish drum group Wild Rose Singers served as head drum for the powwow. Heritage University board member and long-time supporter Arlen Washines, deputy director for Yakama Nation Human Services, was the master of ceremonies. Recent Heritage graduate Jacob Billy served as arena director, and Casey Cree was the whip man and Karen Umtuch was the whip woman.

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