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Struggling to Make 2004 Haskell Pow Wow a Reality

LAWRENCE, Kan. - The commencement pow wow at Haskell has become a tradition
throughout Indian country as a celebration of success for new graduates and
a time for Haskell alumni to come together. It has also become a favorite
place on the pow wow trail for competitors. The three-day celebration is
believed to be the largest commencement pow wow in the nation, but few know
of the struggle to put the pow wow on each year.

Manny King, Haskell registrar is just one of a handful of dedicated staff
members who put aside their own time to make the pow wow a success.

King wanted to emphasize that he wasn't the only one who was working hard
and said he and Patti Grant-Orosco had worked on the spring pow wow
together for years.

King, also a favorite M.C. in the Kansas area, said most of the money from
each year's pow wow is made from the admission charged at the gate and from
vendors, the balance has to come from a lot of hard work by the volunteer
pow wow committee.

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Each year between 300 and 500 dancers arrive to compete for prize money at
the Haskell pow wow. "Our prize money is between $16,000 and $18,000," King
said. "This year we had about $13,000 left over from last year, but it's
only part of the prize money for this year and doesn't include the money
needed to pay student workers who provide security, hotel rooms for head
staff and all kinds of other expenses that come up."

The lack of available money in the budget at Haskell has declined over the
years and now all the funds necessary to fund the commencement pow wow come
from donations and fundraising efforts.

The committee has put on two pow wows so far this year to raise money for
the spring pow wow.

King's humor and warmth has not only made him a favorite of Haskell
students, but also has allowed him to get others to care about the
fund-raising efforts as much as he does.

"We'll get there," King said. "But we need donations. We aren't like the
casino pow wows that have large budgets. We have to earn it all to put this
on. We have to rent fencing, portable toilets and feed our workers. We also
pay our student security guards, for a lot of them the money they earn at
the pow wow is what they use to go home for the summer on. And then of
course this is Kansas and if the weather gets bad and we have to move our
pow wow indoors we have to rent generators. The expenses add up quickly,
but we'll get there, I know we will."