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Mills annual powwow is a community hit

Mills College Weekly

Community, family, fun and food were the focuses of the day at the 15th annual Mills College powwow. Dancers and drummers from many different Native American tribes as well as community health organizations and vendors came for the daylong event, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Toyon Meadow.

The event was well attended by the campus community and outside visitors. While many of the dancers and vendors were in the midst of touring many powwows, others were locals who came only to Bay Area events. One local vendor said this was her seventh Mills College powwow.

“It’s family. It’s a family event,” said Sharon Chestang-Robinson. Robinson’s background is Mississippi Chocktaw, but she dances in Lakota dress. “I’m Southern, but I dance North,” Robinson said.

One visitor who declined to give her name said she “came to be part of a celebration of the ancestors.” She said she found out about the powwow from the Native American Health Center when she called them for information about local Native American events.

The Native American Health Center was just one of several community health organizations that set up tables at the powwow to disseminate information. The American Indian Child Resource Center also attended and had information for people who wanted to become foster parents. The Native American AIDS Project also set up a table where they passed out candy, condoms and information for most of the day.

While the booths and vendors drew crowds, the central event was the powwow, where drumming, dancing and singing went on all day. Most of the crowd was mesmerized by the colorful costumes and continuous song.

“I’m just sitting and watching the dancing,” said sophomore Colyn Newton. “It’s pretty interesting-it’s cool to see everyone interact.”

Dancers of all ages, decked out in feathers, beads, quills and even sequins participated in the first Grand Entry in the early afternoon and another at 6:15 p.m.

There was also a raffle to raise money for the organization that sponsored the event. Drawing prizes included a cash prize, a Pendleton blanket and a handmade beaded and painted gourd, which was donated by one of the artisan vendors.