The 20th anniversary University of Iowa Powwow kicked off last weekend in Iowa City, Iowa, with hundreds of spectators, dancers, vendors, volunteers, six drum groups, with host drum Midnight Express (from Minneapolis, Minnesota), carrying on a tradition that began in 1990. The pow wow grew to be a three-day event but in 2005 found itself in the red. With determination and ingenuity the AISA (American Indian Student Association) brought back the event in 2009 and has steadily gained back momentum and acceptance at the university.
This year the AISA found a combination that brought the celebration to another level with the team of MC Howard (Howie) Thomson, Carry the Kettle, Saskatchewan, Canada, and two-time World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie, member of the Sac & Fox Nation of the Mississippi of Iowa/Meskwaki. Some guys just have a lot of MC power and there was none lacking with Thomson as he put his wit, jokes, laughter and organizational skills into play along with arena director Yazzie. As a world-traveling lecturer, dancer and educator, Yazzie has earned the reputation for being one of the nation's leading experts on Native American dance. Yazzie's next stop will be the 43rd Annual University of North Dakota Wacipi in Grand Forks, North Dakota, this weekend, April 19-21, and then off to the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 26-28.
Howie Thomson, left, with Larry Yazzie
Other head staff at the Iowa pow wow:
Head Man: Wayne Silas, Jr. (Oneida, Wisconsin)- As a Fancy Dancer he has won five championships at the Gathering of Nations, and the 2009 World Class Title from the United Tribes Technical College Powwow in Bismarck, North Dakota. In addition, he has been blessed with many singing titles while performing with various drum groups including eight championships from the Schemitzun World Championship Festival and the 2004 World Class Title Championship at Gathering of Nations.
Head Woman Winona Kingbird (Whapeton, North Dakota)- When you hear Winona Kingbird, you think women's jingle dress dance and placement among stiff competition at large pow wows--Sisseton, Hunting Moon and Gathering of Nations. Winona and her family are always promoting Native American culture through dance and drum at pow wows or dance exhibitions nationally or globally
Head Drum Judge: Joe Syrette (Mt Pleasant, Michigan); Color Guard: Robert Morgan American Legion Post 701 (Tama, Iowa).
The Little Spirits are always a big part of these pow wows as you see the Circle of Life continuing and traditions and culture being handed down to the next generation of members of our Native Nations.
The University of Iowa Recreation Building houses the event with room to grow & I have to admit this year seemed somewhat more organized then the year before with more spectators and dancers. It takes a lot of time, effort and sponsors to organize these pow wows, but the AISA committee members and volunteers did a great job.
Congratulations to all this years winners and hope to see you on the Pow Wow Trail.
Doksha, Bob Uhl
Bob Uhl and Shauna Zeck own and operate BeadSpirit Designs, carving & designing Native American traditional & contemporary jewelry from their home in Waterloo, Iowa. Shauna has been doing her beadwork now for almost 18 years and her work has been featured in Cowboys & Indians magazine (Sept. 2004) and her jewelry is in several art galleries on the West Coast and Midwest
Shauna started a charity 7 years ago called the Little Spirits Fund, in which a portion of all her jewelry sales go to abused and neglected children on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. Twice a year they take a truckload of new diapers, clothing, baby food, formula and school supplies to Pine Ridge.Bob's roots are Mescalero Apache and Ho-Chunk; Shauna is Lakota, Cree and Delaware and their seven-year-old son, David, who is beginning his second year as a grass dancer is Modock/Pauite. Bob says, "as you can see we have many nations covered in this family ... our Native blood, culture, roots and families have always been held close to our hearts."
Bob Uhl has written two books, Secular Protocol and Indistinct Appearance (found on Amazon), served 11 years in the Army and worked 27 years for a major electrical utility in Iowa. "Being retired gives me the freedom to give back & to attend more Native gatherings and pow wows and capture the heart of Native Nations in photos, and witness the traditional dancing, singing and drumming of so many talented men and women from the Little Spirits to the Golden Age Dancers. I am always thankful for this opportunity. "