Welcome to the 11th Annual Indiana University Traditional Powwow.
Beginning in 2002, the Indiana University Powwow was initially a competitive dance event organized by Prof. Wesley Thomas. In 2011, Prof. Brian Gilley, then-director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, rebranded the dance to its current format.
The IU Traditional Powwow began as a much smaller dance at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall. Each year, the powwow outgrew its space, moving from the Black Culture Center to Cedar Hall to Willkie Auditorium to the IMU Alumni Hall and Solarium. In 2017, the Traditional Powwow moved to an outside location, Dunn Meadow. Then, after the pandemic, it moved to the Cramer Marching Hundred Hall and, this year, to Wilkinson Hall.
We are very grateful and excited for its continued presence within the IU and Bloomington community, and we look forward to its growth in the future.
You should know several guidelines as a courtesy to the powwow participants. Powwows are fun events, but they are also sacred events.
Please respect elders at all times.
Elders are to be served FIRST at mealtimes.
Do not touch dancers’ regalia or jewelry.
Walk around, not through, the dance circle.
Please do not dance in the arena until the emcee announces the invitation.
Please direct any questions you might have to a powwow volunteer.
It is polite to ask permission before taking a dancer’s photo outside the arena.
If you would like to know more about a dancer, dance style, or a dancer’s clothing, respectfully ask that dancer.
Donations are encouraged at blanket dances.
Native Arts and Crafts Vendors
The IU Powwow offers a unique opportunity to meet and learn from Native American artists from across the country. Native arts and crafts vendors play an important role in the powwow, adding significant cultural aesthetic and meaning to the overall experience of the event. Many with us today are selling examples of the traditional crafts passed down in their families and Tribes for generations. Working to maintain authenticity in Native art, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 protects these artists and their families and makes it illegal to misrepresent non-Native-made items. We encourage everyone to visit the booths, ask questions, and learn about the art and make purchases to support genuine Native American crafts and these Native American artists and their families.
Lonny Street Meskwaki Hollister, North Carolina
Verna Street Cherokee, Tuscarora, and Meherrin Nations Hollister, North Carolina
Lonny and Verna Street own and operate the Raven Street Dance Studio LLC. They specialize in sharing Native American dance, songs, and crafts and teach in person and virtually throughout North America. Like the Raven, the most revered teacher amongst the Tsalagi Nation, Lonny and Verna take pride in sharing what they have learned through their life journey. They enjoy teaching and believe it’s important to share their gifts to ensure the traditional future of the Native Americans.
Verna Street is a descendant of the Cherokee, Tuscarora, and Meherrin Nations of North Carolina. At age 12, she began dancing Fancy Shawl. Her desire to dance has taken her further than she could have ever imagined. The places, people, and adventures she encountered on the powwow trail shaped her life. During one such adventure, Verna met her husband of 20 years, Champion Men’s Traditional Dancer, Lonny Street-Meskwaki, Tama, Iowa. He was raised dancing in the Arena since he could walk. Verna and Lonny continue their journey down the powwow highway with their five children: Trevor, Elonna, Twins-Rowdy & Talon, and Biskinania!!
Donald Lyons Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe East Lansing, Michigan
Don Lyons, M.S.W., is an internationally acclaimed speaker, trainer, facilitator, and leader. He is a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and a descendant of the Six Nations Mohawk. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Don remains connected to his indigenous roots through the love and support of his parents, grandparents (boarding school survivors), and mentorship from the urban native community of Detroit. Being an urban native, he has been blessed to come from a blended family of racial and tribal backgrounds. This diversity of experiences shaped and fed his passion for applying the inherent brilliance of indigenous knowledge systems throughout his life. Don has always found ways to indigenize spaces and places he has traveled. He contributes his personal and professional success to the love and support of his friends, family, and elders and the ability to remain connected to traditional ceremonies, singing, and dancing.
Whirlwind Bull Yellow Bear MHA Nation/Sahnish and Dakota New Town, North Dakota
Whirlwind Bull Yellow Bear is an enrolled member of MHA Nation, he is Sahnish (Arikara) and Dakota. He is a husband, father, singer, Peer Support Specialist, and community organizer and is currently the Wellness Court Recovery Coach for Ft. Berthold District Court.
Whirlwind Bull believes in strengthening Indigenous communities and families by utilizing cultural values. He understands Indigenous men face many negative stigmas and advocates for creating safe spaces for men. Healing is imperative in breaking generational trauma and cycles of violence and neglect. To be a positive male role model, Whirlwind hosts men’s talking circles and offers a youth survival summer camp to encourage young men to connect to the land and themselves. Whirlwind also hosts powwow singing and dance practices for youth hoping to spark passion for the same traditions with which he was raised.
Ho-Chunk Station Lyndon Station, Wisconsin
Ho-Chunk Station is a family drum group brought together by the late Rick Cleveland Sr. Today, his sons lead the drums, and they carry on the morals, values, and teachings their father instilled in them regarding the ways of the drum. Collectively, Ho-Chunk Station has won innumerable awards and championships at powwows throughout the United States. Each family member has been taught the ways and meanings of their Woodlands dances, with teachings handed down for generations.
Chief Hill Ojibwe/Minneapolis St. Paul, Minnesota
Chief Hill was initially comprised of drum brothers who were Midwest transplants from Green Bay, Wisconsin. The name derives from a reservation neighborhood that felt like home for many transplants. Respectively, each original member sang with different drum groups at the time. However, it didn’t stop them from singing together at most northeastern Wisconsin powwows. The name lives on in memoriam to one of its original singers, Wanbli Charging Eagle. They carry his memory through song in their travels.
Iron Bear Chicago, Illinois
Iron Bear is a drum group comprised of the Southern Plains singing style and Ponca influence. The members of Iron Bear represent many tribes from the Midwest. The drum lives in Eau Claire, Michigan, and is cared for by lead singer, Sterling Big Bear III. The group’s name comes from Sterling Big Bear’s great-grandfather’s brother, Iron Bear. They continue using the name Iron Bear to honor family and ancestors.
Thunder Hill Kiowa/Navajo Weatherford, Oklahoma
Thunder Hill was established in 2004 in the town of Weatherford, Oklahoma. They are comprised of several tribes from many different states around the country. They have been together for 19 years and feel blessed to have traveled all over the U.S. and Canada to perform.
Pokagon Bodewadmik Ogitchedaw Pokagon Band of Potawatomi - Dowagiac, Michigan
The Pokagon Bodewadmik Ogitchedaw veterans organization maintains its traditional role as the warriors and protectors of the Pokagon community past, present, and future. They stand as protectors at the doors of the four directions to ensure that the ways of the Neshnabek people are never lost or forgotten.
They honor and remember those who have served before and those who are serving today and will seek to inspire and support future generations to serve in defense of our country, our native nation, and all freedoms that our creator intended for all people to possess.
Those on the journey today and those who may travel this path in the future can rest assured that the Pokagon Bodewadmik Ogitchedaw will support them and their families through challenging and sometimes difficult journeys.
They continue to maintain and educate the Pokagon community on the history, traditions, and values of the Ogitchedaw warriors.
They maintain a constant vigil over and are the caretaker of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Community Eagle Staff and display the historical flag of our nation at ceremonies of the tribal community. Furthermore, they are guardians of the tribal flags, perform honor guard duties at various events, and oversee flag protocol at all tribal facilities when requested.
The Pokagon Bodewadmik Ogitchedaw fosters comradery among tribal veterans and honors all veterans for the values and virtues attributable to their service.
Indy Hula Indianapolis, Indiana
Indy Hula is a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach Polynesian song and dance, language, and culture, and spread awareness through performances both public and private.
They teach Saturday classes in Indianapolis and welcome all skill levels and age groups, from beginner to advanced. Indy Hula strives to share the Polynesian culture with everyone.
Ballet Folklórico de IU Bloomington, Indiana
Founded in the spring of 2017 through the support of La Casa/Latino Cultural Center, Ballet Folklórico de IU’s vision was to form an organization of IU students willing to learn and share their knowledge in a campus setting. Every member has a different level of experience and background, but all share an interest in learning about Mexican traditional and interpretive dances. Their goal is to bring to IU the diversity of Mexican culture by learning, practicing, and performing folk dances from various states of Mexico. As a performance group, they have participated in various IU engagements and community events such as “Fiesta de Otoño.” Recently they prepared two dance suites. The first dance suite is from the state of Sinaloa, accompanied by the “banda” genre of music with songs “Vuela Paloma,” “El sinaloense,” and “El pato asado.” The second dance suite is from the state of Jalisco, including “El autlence,” “El jarabe tapatío,” and “El son.”
Angus Bush – Hoop Dancer
Angus Bush, anishinaabemdaa ninnie, was raised by his father, John Bush, to respect the beauty of life and being anishinaabemdaa. Angus learned many dance styles and continues dancing woodland style and hoop dancing. He was taught hoop dancing at age three by Chase Stevens and later Celina Cada-Matasawagon enhanced his hoop dance style. Angus continues dancing, learning, and sharing his dance knowledge to support all Native American dance.
How the Powwow Began
The modern powwow and many styles of contemporary powwow dancing have their roots in the historic warrior societies of the Southern and Northern Plains. Over time, these dances, ceremonies, and gatherings have evolved from formal, Tribal-based ceremonies into modern-day intertribal celebrations of culture, dance, song, crafts, food, and pageantry.
Today powwows are held across the United States and Canada, in small towns and big cities. However, these social gatherings can occur anywhere–from community dance grounds to large arenas, convention centers, and universities.
A powwow is a place where Native American people representing all communities and Tribal backgrounds can come together and share experiences, reconnect with old friends, and make new ones. It is an opportunity to reflect on time-honored traditions while helping to educate future generations of dancers and singers.
First Nations Educational & Cultural Center
Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the First Nations Educational & Cultural Center (FNECC) provides an extended network of resources and information to inspire, encourage, and empower students for success. The FNECC also sponsors cultural events and programs for Native American students and the campus community throughout the academic year, including guest speakers (scholars and Native elders), film series, workshops in Native American arts and career development, and the Annual Traditional Powwow.
First Nations Educational & Cultural Center resources