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Annual Powwow returns to Lane Community College

Lane Community College’s annual powwow returns April 1, in the gymnasium of the main campus. The Native American Student Association, which is hosting the event, pulled it together without the usual help of the college’s Native American Student Programs Coordinator. Because the position had remained vacant in the months leading up to the powwow, it fell to the students to make it happen.

In the process, college freshmen became community organizers, and students discovered shared experiences among their varied cultures – a result that exemplifies what the powwow is all about.

“We are excited to have people come and join in and be part of the Powwow,” said Wesley Scott, a student and teaching assistant and member of Yurok Nation, in a prepared release. “The powwow is a place to pray for the good fortune of the world and the happiness of the people,” he said.

Scott serves as the Native American Student Association’s co-chair, alongside Jordan Davis-Jackson, who is a member of the Quileute Nation.

“Not only is this a great opportunity to honor Native American cultures, this is also a great opportunity for Tribal Nations near and far to come and visit the Lane campus,” Davis-Jackson said ahead of the event.

Davis-Jackson said it was challenging to manage budgets and coordinate the many details associated with an event of this size, but added getting to her favorite part about powwow will make all of the hard work worthwhile.

“I love walking in, and then I get chills when I hear the drummers and singers. It's really good medicine and heals the soul really nicely,” she said, speaking to the excitement and emotion of the powwow’s grand entrance, which begins at noon.

Members of the campus’s Asian and Pacific Islander Student Union also offered assistance. Student Rae Orsilino, who is Filipino, told KLCC she enjoyed learning about each others’ cultures.

“We have a similar belief system. We respect our elders," she said. "And then we sing songs for our ancestors because they live through us."

Kumu Iwalani Raes, coordinator of the college’s Asian and Pacific Islander Student Program, taught the students and volunteers a Hula chant and dance, which they’ll perform during a break between Saturday’s scheduled events.  

The powwow showcases drummers and dancers from across the Northwest, a traditional style salmon bake, and craft and food vendors.

The event is family-friendly, drug and alcohol-free, and free to attend. The powwow takes place from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM in the Lane Community College gymnasium, located on the main campus at 4000 E 30th Ave, in Eugene.

Jill Burke became KLCC's arts reporter in February, 2023.