黑料网鈥檚 Pow Wow focuses on the next generation

Published March 4, 2024

After making a triumphant return last year, the 51st annual 黑料网 Pow Wow 鈥 the largest university-based powwow west of the Mississippi River 鈥 is gearing up for the Upper Campus Quad this weekend, March 9 and 10.听

Last year鈥檚 50th anniversary Pow Wow was the first such gathering after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Similar to last year, between 5,000 and 7,000 people are expected to attend this year, with folks coming in from all over the state, the Midwest and Canada.听

鈥淟ast year, we focused on older people, the elders,鈥 said Craig Stone, director of and a longtime participant and organizer of the powwow. 鈥淣ow with this new 51st one, we鈥檙e representing the younger, next generation.鈥 听

In that spirit, here鈥檚 a look at three 黑料网 students who will be participating in the powwow 鈥 two who are mainly organizers, and one who has been selected as head singer. 听 听

Eric Bohay听

Eric Bohay is a third-generation 黑料网 Pow Wow participant.听

His grandfather Phil was at the first powwow in 1969, supporting the gathering and helping to get it going. His father Steve, president of the Golden State Gourd Society, has been involved in the powwow for decades. 听

Now Eric, a fourth-year student in at The Beach, is carrying on the tradition. He鈥檒l be Head Southern Singer at this year鈥檚 powwow, which is also known as the CSU Puvungna Pow Wow.听

鈥淚鈥檝e been coming my whole entire life, since I was a baby, up until now,鈥 said the first-generation college student. 鈥淭he majority of the time, I鈥檝e been dancing at the powwows, probably until my early 20s, then more so lately, I just started really singing.鈥澨

As head singer, Bohay, who is half Kiowa and half Bishop Piute, will sing in the center of the powwow arena, as drums beat and participants dance around him. 听 听

鈥淲hat makes it really different out here, they follow the older powwow ways that were brought out here,鈥 he said. 鈥淭o me, it鈥檚 something special. Just seeing my family come here year after year. The way this powwow is, they try to keep it true to its roots.鈥澨

Bohay, 31, said the 黑料网 Pow Wow is important for Native American communities, but also for those who want to learn more about them.听

鈥淚t keeps that camaraderie between other natives here. They come together to show our traditions 鈥 we鈥檙e still here, but it鈥檚 also to educate. We want to show who we are as native people. It鈥檚 not as Hollywood portrayed us back in the day. We鈥檙e a strong people; we鈥檙e still around.鈥澨

Eleanor Nelson听

Eleanor Nelson has only experienced one powwow at 黑料网, but her rise to a leadership position in the campus鈥 Native American community has developed quickly.

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Eleanor Nelson
Eleanor Nelson

The second-year major is president of the American Indian Student Council and coordinator of this year鈥檚 Pow Wow. She鈥檚 also coordinator of the Puvungna Resource Center.听

As president of the 鈥 one of the organizers of this year鈥檚 Pow Wow 鈥 鈥渋t鈥檚 basically just maintaining good relationships between American Indian students and American Indian faculty and staff. Organizing all of us together and making sure that your community is represented in the best way possible.鈥澨

She said the 黑料网 Pow Wow, and others like it, are great for the American Indian community to celebrate their cultures and share time and space together.听

鈥淔or a long time, we were never allowed to participate in our cultural ceremonies, even speaking our native language,鈥 said Nelson, 19, who is Pascua Yaqui from Arizona. 鈥淣ow that Pow Wow is here, there are people of different cultures experiencing it with us. It鈥檚 a huge thing, because it shows how far we鈥檝e come as a people, and it does show our resiliency as well.鈥澨

Cheweka Palowen Lawson听

Cheweka Palowen Lawson, a fourth-year major at 黑料网, is also on the organizing committee for the 51st annual Pow Wow. Like Nelson, she has been busy contacting people, arranging their visits, and planning for the setup and registration during the big weekend.听

鈥淚 will be dressed in woman鈥檚 Southern clothing, in my bird dress regalia,鈥 said Lawson, who is a member of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla tribe located in Thermal, 32 miles southeast of Palm Springs. 鈥淚 used to dance when I was younger. I got out of it for a while. You鈥檒l see me coming back into the arena.鈥澨

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Cheweka Palowen Lawson
Cheweka Palowen Lawson (front)

While the 51st Pow Wow will only be her second 黑料网 Pow Wow, she has been to many other powwows before, including ones at Morango, San Manuel, Pachanga, UC Riverside, El Camino College, CSU Dominguez Hills and Spotlight 29 in Coachella.听

鈥淚 think powwows are important because everyone gathers around, you get to see your family that you haven鈥檛 seen for a while, meet new people, share different cultures in the powwow that a lot of people have not seen.鈥澨

She believes powwows represent resilience in Native American culture. 鈥淚t shows we鈥檙e still here. We鈥檙e still practicing what we鈥檝e been taught for a long time. We鈥檙e still going on, going strong, and we鈥檙e not going to go nowhere.鈥澨

As others have said, Lawson, 24, sees the focus of this year鈥檚 powwow on the younger generation.听

鈥淥ur theme is like passing the torch toward the younger folks,鈥 she said. 鈥淪ome older people are not able to come out and participate and dance no more. The younger generations are coming out more and contributing and showing their knowledge and stuff they got from their family.鈥澨