A tradition that began at California State University, Northridge in the 1970s – and one that has been practiced for generations in American Indian communities – is celebrating its 36th occurrence on Saturday, Nov. 30.
CSUN’s American Indian Studies program and American Indian Students Association will host the campus’ 36th annual Powwow – a gathering featuring American Indian dance and music – from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Sierra Quad, located in front of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library in the center of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
“There are more than 200,000 American Indians in Los Angeles County and Powwows are a way for that community to get together, not only to socialize, but to celebrate different cultures, music, stories and traditions,” said English professor Scott Andrews, the director of CSUN’s American Indian Studies program.
“It’s an opportunity for non-native people to be introduced to some of the history and culture of native people,” Andrews said. “Most importantly, it shows that native people are alive and present.”
Gourd dancing – a formal ceremonial event – will launch the celebration at 11 a.m. The Grand Entry – opening ceremony – will feature all the day’s dancers. Opening blessings – spiritual honoring of ancestors – will immediately follow.
The Grand Entry will include representatives of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, who are the native people of the San Fernando Valley.
“The Tataviam participation in the powwow is our way of acknowledging their long history and continued presence in the San Fernando Valley. CSUN is built on Tataviam land. American Indian Studies partners with them on various projects,” Andrews said.
The CSUN Powwow is the largest in the San Fernando Valley.
The Powwow will include dancers who will be wearing special regalia – traditional clothing appropriate for different dance styles – which highlights the mixture of traditions and contemporary experience, Andrews said.
The event will feature vendors selling items from souvenirs to fine art, a raffle and traditional American Indian food.
Admission is free and open to the public, parking will be available in the B3 parking structure. To access B3, enter Prairie Street from Reseda Boulevard.