CORVALLIS - The spotlight will be on Native American cultures and perspectives May 14-16 at Oregon State University, which will host a day-long conference as well as the annual spring Pow-Wow.
On Friday, May 14, several hundred Oregon tribal members are expected to attend "Sacred Landscapes: Native American Perspectives of the Pacific Northwest." The all-day conference starts at OSU's LaSells Stewart Center at 8:30 a.m. Free and open to the public, the conference will look at the relationship between humans and the environment from a Native American point of view. For information, contact the OSU Department of Ethnic Studies at 541-737-0709.
On Satuday and Sunday, May 15-16, the focus moves to OSU's Gill Coliseum for the 23rd annual Spring Pow-Wow. Festivities, also free and open to the public, begin at 11 a.m. each day and feature food, crafts and entertainment. For information, contact the OSU Native American Longhouse, 541-737-2738.
Pow-Wow grand entry celebrations are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and at noon on Sunday. The grand entry is the featured dance of a Pow-Wow, used to bring in the dancers. It will be led by the Grand Ronde Color Guard and the entry circles and loops until all dancers are in the arena.
The OSU Pow-Wow brings together members of different tribes to socialize, compete in drumming and dancing, visit with friends, and celebrate shared and individual tribal cultures, said Linda Paschke of OSU Student Involvement. Performers will demonstrate their skills as artisans and entertainers and display their cultural wear in numerous performances.
The event is sponsored by OSU's Native American Student Association.
"Each year, our main event and centerpiece of (the Native American Student Association) is the OSU annual Spring Pow-Wow," said Patricia Sweat, a Pow-Wow organizer. "Every year we draw larger numbers of spectators and participants from all over Oregon, and some from Washington and California, to this event, which is open to the public, free of charge, keeping in keeping with the traditional nature of the Pow-Wow."
The OSU Pow-Wow will feature the drumming of Southern Cree, a group of nationally-recognized champion drummers, who belong to the Chipewa Cree Tribe of Box Elder, Mont. The group performs at Pow-Wows throughout the nation and has won honors in several singing and drumming contests. Their album, "Get Up and Dance!" is considered one of the best collections of Pow-Wow music in the country.
Music and dance is the focal point of Pow-Wows and each dance has special meaning, Paschke said. Traditional dances are grounded performances where dancers imitate being a scout, walking down a trail, or another activity. The steps are passed down from generation to generation. Fancy dances are off the ground, fast and furious, but all the dances represent a holistic, spiritual approach to life, she added.