98th annual powwow used in part to celebrate Native American ancestry
Bright yellow, pink, purple and blue feathers, ribbons and bells filled the typically all-crimson Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday during the latest installment of the longest-running student-led powwow in the United States.
Nikki Self, The Oklahoma Daily
AT A GLANCE
Women’s fancy shawl
Golden age men
Golden age women
The 98th annual Spring Contest Powwow included participants from Comanche, Pawnee, Kiowa, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee nations and men, women and children gathered to celebrate their Native American ancestry while competing in traditional regalia.
Creek nation member Sarah Dill said many of the dances are traditionally from the plains tribes, but many other tribes join in the community celebration.
“It is largely a social event,” said Dill, English literary and cultural studies major.
Former Miss Indian OU Samantha Bachman was honored with song and dance before passing the crown to her successor, Samantha Benton. Both women danced with Mr. Indian OU, David Colbert, and were joined by friends.
A gourd dance was featured among the traditional dances. In a gourd dance, men shake gourds and dance in a circle with a drum in the middle, while women wearing shawls dance outside them, Dill said.
The dance is usually performed to honor an important person, and donations also were taken for the honoree.
Participants and attendees gathered for a grand entrance and danced together in intertribal dances before the contest began.
Dancers included Tiny Tots, Junior Boys and Girls, Golden Age Men and Women before the eight men’s and women’s dances.
Edson Yellowfish and Erin Yarholar served as the head man and head lady. Herb Adson led the singing with the Kiowa Tia-Piah Society gourd clan.
The women’s fancy shawl and jingle dances attracted the most participants.
In the fancy shawl dance, women dance wearing brightly colored, beaded dresses individually choreograph their own dances, according to the Red Earth Program.
For the jingle dance, women wore dresses decorated with jingling metal adornments and dance in reverence, keeping careful to match the beat of the drum.
The men’s grass and fancy war dances displayed the most elaborate costumes of the event.
In the men’s grass dance, men wear regalia decorated in fringe and ribbons. It is among the most ancient of the surviving tribal dances, according to the Red Earth program.
The greatest number of participants danced in men’s fancy war dance. Men donning brightly colored feather bustles and headdresses dance to the fast beat of a drum, according to the Red Earth Program.
The event ended with a final intertribal dance with the American Indian Student Association, an auction and raffle drawings. All contest winners were awarded prizes.
Members of the community look forward to the 100th anniversary powwow in 2014, Bachman said.
Event donors included the OU American Indian Alumni Association, the Comanche nation, the Waters family, Society of Native American Gentleman and UOSA.