By Amy Rudolph
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College will be exposed to a minority culture on April 22 when a traditional Native American Pow Wow comes to campus. Hosted on the Green, the Pow Wow will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Student Government Association (SGA) Diversity Committee and junior President Lindsey Jackson are eager to show students a new culture through dancing, food, and Native American goods.
The collaborative event will bring WC students and three Native American tribes from New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland together to celebrate Native American culture.
Jackson, a princess of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe of New Jersey, is excited to bring her two worlds together at this event.
Jackson said, “I am most excited to see my tribe on campus with the students, with my friends and seeing them interact. I have never been able to share my culture as much as I will be able to that day. I am very excited to feel like they can see what I see every Saturday, they will know what it is like.”
A Pow Wow is a large scale event in which tribes dance, eat, and practice spiritual rituals amongst themselves and with other tribes. Students will be able to take part in the festivities and see the importance of these traditions for the tribes.
Some may wonder why we would have a Pow Wow at WC, but Jackson thought ‘why not?’
“Some people my age in [the tribe] have Pow Wows at their schools. They have it at Rutgers and…at their high schools so I said, ‘Why not WC? We could do that.’”
After she realized that it was possible to plan a Pow Wow at WC, Jackson proposed the idea to the Diversity Committee.
She said, “When I brought it to the committee, they were excited because they agree that we don’t have that awareness here; it is very limited. I think it would be great to bring that awareness and bring my tribe here.”
Jackson has had interactions with people on campus as well as in the Chestertown community that made her notice the lack of awareness when it comes to Native American culture and traditions.
She said, “In Chestertown, someone asked me ‘I don’t want to be rude but what is your heritage?’ and I said, ‘Oh I’m Native American’ and they said, ‘I’ve never met someone who is Native American.’ It’s great to have people be educated, so I thought why not bring my whole tribe here and people can ask as many questions as they like and educate our community.”
Jackson knows all about Pow Wows, as she has been going to them since she was “a day old.” While Jackson has knowledge about what a Pow Wow is and what it signifies, many people on campus may not.
“Pow Wow is usually pow-pow-pow, there’s always something happening. It will be an all action packed day,” she said. “The Native American Pow Wow consists of different types of dancing. [The tribes] want to showcase different styles and levels of dancing. We have a teen division…a tots division in which our toddlers dance. We learn to dance basically when we start walking.”
Students looking to take part in the dancing festivities may be given the opportunity.
“There’s a few kinds of dances that we call the audience to dance with us, so we can definitely teach students a few steps in the arena. I am excited for that too because you can choose whoever you want to pull in and the tribe will be mixing with students,” Jackson said.
Aside from dancing, students will be able to experience traditional Native American dining customs.
“We are going to have Native American food. My favorite is fry bread, it’s kind of like a funnel cake and we put powdered sugar on it. We also make an ‘Indian taco’ that has meat, beans, lettuce, tomatoes,” Jackson said.
As is customary at Pow Wows, Native American vendors will be present with their goods for students to purchase.
“We are going to have handmade crafts and we will have vendors selling their crafts. They will be selling chokers; we had them before they were cool. These kinds of crafts, you can’t get them anywhere else. They are handmade by someone in my tribe so when I get a dreamcatcher from someone like that it is very special to me because you won’t see that at…a store,” she said.
On April 4, the SGA allocated $1,250 to the Secretary of Diversity Amanda Tran for the Native American Pow Wow, according to Senate Minutes. Jackson said that the money is going toward a number of things.
“A lot of it goes towards bringing our equipment from home, also in transportation [and]labor. Dancing isn’t easy and we decided in Diversity [Committee] it would be good to give them some lunch in [the dining hall] so the money goes back to school to pay for [the dining hall,]” Jackson said.
While the Pow Wow is a great way to teach students about Native American culture, there is also the risk of people skirting the line between appreciation and appropriation.
Jackson said, “I am nervous that people will think it’s going to be okay to dress up and be one of us. There are specific things like I know my chief takes headdresses very seriously…a male would wear a male headdress, not a female. There are certain things that need to be respected in the culture. I am kind of nervous that someone might be ignorant and not show respect, but I hope that with the Honor Code people will be respectful and not come to mock.”
Though respect for the culture and traditions are incredibly important, students should not be afraid to take part in the Pow Wow.
“I just think that it is like a big party. So just come in high spirits…don’t come in with a heavy heart. Just have fun and come with an open mind,” said Jackson.
By Amy Rudolph