To the rhythm of a deep, steady beat of bass drums, rows of Native American dancers clad in brightly colored traditional regalia, jingle dresses and feathered headdress stepped slowly onto the expansive floor Saturday at UND’s Hyslop Sports Center.
About 300 dancers -- men, women and children of all ages -- participated in the 49th annual Time Out Wacipi Powwow on Saturday, demonstrating the dance artistry that has been passed down through generations.
Participants came from states such as the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan, as well as Manitoba and Alberta, Canada, organizers said.
Sponsored by the UND Indian Association, the event featured performances in grass dance, fancy dance, traditional dance, shawl dance and jingle dress dance.
“Every dance tells the story or history of the culture,” said Antonino Mora, a UND pre-law student who recently stepped down as UNDIA president and organized the event along with other UNDIA executive board members.
Five Native American tribes donated funds to support the event and the dancers it attracted, Mora said. The tribes are the Shakopee Sioux Nation, Three Affiliated Tribes, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Spirit Lake Sioux, and the Standing Rock Sioux.
This traditional powwow, which concluded a week of activities, allows “us to share our culture with UND,” said Makayla Mather, UNDIA president who coordinated the powwow along with executive board members.
Mather, a UND junior who is majoring in environmental geo-engineering, is a member of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes of Alaska.
Along with performances, some of the Native American students who are set to graduate from UND next month with degrees in health fields were honored at the powwow.
“This is the future of Indian health,” said Dr. Don Warne, director of the Indians Into Medicine program at UND, as he introduced Native American students who will complete graduate and undergraduate degrees in fields such as medicine, psychology and counseling.
“As of next month, we will have graduated 244 Native American physicians,” Warne said.
UND has graduated many more students with master’s and bachelor’s degree in health sciences, said Warne, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation of South Dakota.
The Time Out Wacipi event at UND, “for American Indians, this is part of our culture in terms of coming together and celebrating our culture and languages,” Warne said.
“For the broader community, it’s a great opportunity for cultural exchange and for the non-Indian population to learn more about Indian peoples from those right here in the Red River Valley.”