California State University, Dominguez Hills hosted the university’s first pow wow since the 1970s on Saturday, April 30, attracting approximately 40 tribes from several states. The event served to highlight the university’s commitment to Native American education. Less than one percent of CSU students are Native American — the 23 CSU campuses and Chancellor’s Office are working through the CSU Native American Initiative to address the historical lack of opportunities for Native Americans in higher education.
Several hundred people attended the pow wow, which took place in the Sculpture Garden on campus and included Native American dances, music, arts and crafts. Representatives of the Tongva/Gabrielino, Chumash Sioux, Navajo, Southern Cheyenne, Ojibwa, Apache, Cherokee, Kiowa, Aztecas and other tribes attended the pow wow, entitled “Honoring the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.”
Cheryl McKnight, director, Center for Service Learning, Internships, and Civic Engagement, was glad that attendees felt comfortable enough to ask questions about the pow wow and its ceremonies.
“This helped everyone see how for Indians, dancing is really a kinetic prayer for all of the people,” she said.
McKnight said that the inaugural event – and the hope for a new tradition at CSU Dominguez Hills – was a perfect fit with the university’s mission to bring understanding among the diverse cultures of its service region.
“For me, the pow wow at Dominguez Hills meant sharing one of the most beautiful culutures on the planet with the local community,” she said. “The pow wow helped to bridge understanding between native and non-native communities. As Los Angeles has the largest Native American population in the world, it seems only appropriate that the pow wow be a regular feauture of CSU Dominguez Hills as we are one of the most diverse campuses in the U.S.”
The event was sponsored by MEChA, Associated Students, Inc., the University Library, the Department of Modern Languages, the Multicultural Center, the Office of Student Life, the Center for Service Learning, Internships, and Civic Engagement (SLICE), Provost Ron Vogel, the Golden Toros 50th Anniversary Committee, the Department of Chicana/o Studies, and the Department of Anthropology.
See also the related Dateline story, “Demystifying the Pow Wow: Native American Tradition Returns to Campus.”