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Week of March 5, 2012

40th annual powwow to convene March 17-18

The annual Dance for Mother Earth Powwow, where thousands of people from Michigan, across the United States and Canada gather to celebrate and learn about Native American culture and traditions, returns March 17 and 18.  

Forty years after a small group of Native American students and community members founded the powwow in Ann Arbor, it has evolved into a popular communitywide event hosted by the U-M Native American Student Association, and cosponsored by numerous university administrative offices and academic units.

Today, it is one of the largest university powwows in the nation; according to USA Today Travel, it is one of “10 great places to be wowed by American Indian culture.” 

The 2012 powwow will continue the tradition of providing a gathering place for Native Americans to celebrate and share their culture with one another, and for others who are interested in learning about the country’s strong indigenous heritage. This year’s powwow will host more than 150 dancers, 12 drums and more than 33 vendors/artists from across the nation and throughout Indian Country. In addition, there will be special celebrations to pay tribute to 40 strong years of powwowing for Mother Earth.

The entire community is welcome to join the dance arena and participate in the periodic All-Nations dances between competition dances. In addition, American Indian artisans will be in attendance showcasing crafts, art, and other items or information for display or for purchase in the marketplace. 

A young dancer participates in the fancy dance category at a previous powwow. File photo, U-M Photo Services.

Over the past year, the Powwow Committee — composed mostly of Native American students and community members — have diligently worked, in collaboration with the university, to bring the gathering a step closer to returning to the U-M campus. This year, the powwow will be held at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, across from Michigan Stadium, as part of this transition. 

The committee decided to transition the event back to campus to meet three major goals:

• To encourage Native American youth to aspire to higher education and to U-M, specifically, as they visit campus for this major cultural event, where they will be welcomed by the university community and gain insight on student life.

• To further secure on-campus cultural space and understanding for Native American activities.

• To promote stronger university support and partnerships for future cultural events.



Mike Shriberg, education director at the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, on what he can't live without: "Access to natural areas, and the ability to go there with my family."


Film: “Fukushima: Memories of a Lost Landscape” Part 1, 6-9 p.m. March 11, Angell Hall, Auditorium A, with director Yojyu Matsubayashi.

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