The rally weather Saturday didn’t stop the 25th annual Fresno State First Nations Powwow from drumming, singing and dancing.
“It gives the public the opportunity to come and look at native culture from a native’s point of view,” said Brandy Jaramillo, President of the First Nations American Indian Student Organization who hosted the event and psychology major.
After the celebration was relocated last minute to parking lot P20, the lot filled up with people admiring native art, enjoying Indian tacos and watching tribal dances.
The celebration kicked off with a performance of the Gourd Dance, which is believed to be derived from the Kiowa people and practiced by other tribes as well.
“It’s like a living classroom, you can learn about different cultures from the different tribal people here — it gives an opportunity that most people don’t get,” said Andres Fierro, former First Nation’s President.
Native culture and identity were celebrated with traditional native attire worn among the various tribes and age groups as they danced and chanted throughout the day. While they display a deep love for their roots, some express a concern about their current cultural situation.
“I feel it’s really unfortunate. I’ve seen a lot of people struggle and I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with identifying themselves as Native Americans because of a lot of the stuff they’ve been put through,” said Ruby Reinertsen, treasurer of the First Nations Student Organization and social work major at Fresno State.
Jaramillo said because of Native American’s history and their trauma, they have been suffering.
“Native people weren’t able to practice their own religion until 1978, even though you had the first amendment it didn’t apply to Native Americans,” Jaramillo said.
Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier was brought up in a discussion at the Powwow, in regards to injustices in the Native American community.
While discussing the Peltier case, Fierro said, “President Obama should give Leonard Peltier a pardon. In 1975 at Pine Ridge there were two FBI agents who were shot and killed and they wrongfully convicted Peltier of being responsible for that, even though there was evidence to the contrary.”
The visitors said they attend the Powwows because they educate the public about native culture and roots.