39th annual UC Berkeley Powwow prepares for event with GoFundMe

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Native American Student Development/Courtesy

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The 39th annual UC Berkeley Powwow, set to be held April 7 and complete with various forms of traditional dancing, a scavenger hunt for children and popular Native foods, is currently raising money for renting a space and for other expenditures with a GoFundMe page.

According to the GoFundMe page, the Powwow will bring together the surrounding Native communities to honor and celebrate Native American cultures. Drew Woodson, public relations coordinator for the Indigenous and Native Coalition’s Powwow, said this is the first year the organization is starting a GoFundMe. Money from the fundraiser will be allotted to paying for space reservation and paying for the facility and necessities, such as accessible bathrooms.

“We are trying to raise money so that we can have enough money to reserve the space,” Woodson said. “We don’t have a set space for us, so every year we have to reserve the same space or try to move to a new space. … We don’t get a lot of funding, so this year we are asking for help to make sure this is the best possible experience.”

The Powwow will feature traditional dancing, including Women’s Northern Traditional dance, Women’s Southern Traditional dance, Women’s Jingle dance, Women’s Fancy Shawl dance, Men’s Northern Traditional dance, Men’s Southern Straight dance, Men’s Grass dance and Men’s Fancy dance. People can enter competitions for each type of dance and compete for prizes up to $270.

“That’s just the adults’ categories,” Woodson said. “There are also teen categories as well as junior categories for dance which are part of the contest, so each of those categories will have prizes.”

Tom Phillips, a well-known figure in the Powwow circuit, will be the official master of ceremonies for the event, according to Woodson. Phillips is known for traveling to the different Powwows in the area and bigger scale Powwows, such as at the Gathering of Nations.

Although the event will mainly be a place for communities to come together, Woodson said there are certain traditional rules that need to be respected once they enter the space.

“The little flyer that we give to you on the day of when you come into the space plays out what you can or can’t do,” Woodson said. “(You) can’t walk across the circle space when there’s dancing or drumming happening. There are certain traditions like that.”

Woodson said he hopes that the Powwow will be a place of community growth that will bring more people to campus and bring more Native people from the community together.

For Woodson, the goal of the event is “holding the space and saying we are here, and bringing more people in to see that we have growth within the Native community and to see that we have a presence, … that we have a space on this campus.”

Contact Sabrina Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Sabrina_Dong_.