By Tim Leeds
Montana State University-Northern's Sweetgrass Society is holding a celebration, its annual powwow, on Saturday.
"The reason for the powwow is to hold a celebration for Native Americans being educated," Clint Brown, president of the society, said Monday.
Sweetgrass Society this year selected a theme for the powwow for the first time in its 27-year history, society advisor Elaine Healy-Berger said.
The theme, "Uniting Native Cultures Through Education," perfectly fits the reason the powwow is held, Brown said.
He added that all Native American college graduates and all graduating this year can participate in the 6 p.m. grand entry. Registration for drums and dancers starts at 11 a.m., with the first grand entry at noon in the Northern gym.
The celebration brings representatives of many tribes and colleges and universities together on Northern's campus. The association has received calls and e-mails from as far away as Washington, D.C., asking about the event.
Brown said it's a tradition for representatives of different tribes and institutions of higher education to travel to powwows on the different campuses.
Brown and other members of Sweetgrass Society attended the Montana State University-Bozeman American Indian Club Pow Wow March 29-30, and members plan to go to the Kyi-Po Powwow at the University of Montana in Missoula April 27-29.
The Northern powwow includes raffles for items donated to the society, including moccasins and a Pendleton blanket, and a 50-50 raffle. The princesses of the powwow are selling tickets for the raffles. Tickets are available through Saturday, and the winning tickets will be drawn at the powwow. People need not be present to win.
The raffles are used to fund the powwow, with any money left over going toward scholarships sponsored by the society. The Sweetgrass Society receives some support from the Associated Students of Montana State University-Northern and the university's Cultural Diversity Committee, but not enough to support the event.
The society has been soliciting donations from the community, and Brown said the response has been pretty good so far. The society is continuing to look for donations this week.
Native Americans from several reservations and communities are helping lead the celebration, and many donations have been made.
Bonnie Meyers made the beadwork crowns for the Indian princesses, and Paula Antoine-Healy designed the posters for the powwow. The Fort Belknap Indian Community donated 100 pounds of beef for the free feed, which begins at 5 p.m., and Darlene Sellers, dean of the College of Education, arranged to have the university food service cook the meal.
Lloyd TopSky of Rocky Boy is the master of ceremonies at the powwow, and Brown is the arena director. The host drum is Red Paint Creek of Lodge Pole. Scott Snow of Fort Belknap is the head man dancer and Idella Rattler of Browning is the head woman dancer. Veterans of the military will be the flag bearers.
The 2002 royalty are: Ashley Alvarado of Hays, senior princess; Christina Flansburg of Hays, junior princess; Misty Baker of Rocky Boy, Lil Miss Indian MSU-N princess; Kari Trahant of Rocky Boy, Baby MSU-N princess.
The dance categories are traditional, grass dance and fancy feather in men's and teenage and junior boys; and traditional, jingle dress and fancy shawl in women's and teenage and junior girls. Special dances are Brown leading men's traditional and Rattler leading women's jingle.
Tiny tots will be paid per dance session. Brown said they are likely to receive a bag of treats and maybe a couple of dollars per session.
Healy-Berger will award points for each of the dance sessions, with cash prizes awarded in each category.
The event is free and open to the public. Dancers are charged a small fee to enter the contests.