By Paul Elwell
The Native American Students Association has received $14,420.70 to support funding for the 24th University of Iowa Powwow, as well as the first ever Annual Round Dance.
UISG met on Tuesday to vote on whether to allocate the funds.
Since its founding in 1990, the Native American Student Association (American Indian Student Association, as it was known until 2013) has held the Powwow for 24 years, more or less annually. While beginning with a humble $3,000 budget, the event grew over time, and at its height reached more than $90,000 in a three-day event in Carver-Hawkeye.
Unfortunately, a lack of recurring and adequate funding caused the event to take a five-year hiatus from 2005-10.
This year, the grand total is projected to be $24,545.70, the same as last year.
Normally, the event would be funded largely by the UI and the Meskwaki Nation. However, because of disproportional donations between the two, the Meskwaki Nation has pulled much of its monetary support. Donations from the university have also been unreliable.
“The Office of the President usually funded this event under the Sally Mason administration,” Native American Constituency Sen. Adriana Peterson said. “She would give a recurring donation of over $10,000. This year, we got $1,500 from the Office of President Bruce Harreld.”
The UI is home to only 58 students who identify as Alaskan Native or Native American, 0.2 percent of the school’s enrollment. While the initial allocation of $10,875 may seem superfluous, Sen. Alex Bare said he believes the importance of proper funding extends beyond the desires of the native community at the UI.
“While we have such a small population of Native Americans, these events attract a much wider array of people from the community,” he said. “Five to 6,000 have attended annually in recent years. It’s something more than just the native community itself, it’s a way of bridging the gap between cultures.”
According to a poll given to 26 undergraduate students at a past Powwow, 58 percent said it was their first time attending a Powwow, and 100 percent said they had a better understanding of First Nations culture and would like to see more Native American cultural events on campus.
After the act’s introduction, Sen. Jacob Heid proposed an amendment to cover the difference between what the UISG was being asked to cover and what would be needed to meet the budgetary expectations. This difference added $3,545.70 to the initial amount.
“My reason for that is that I think this event is incredibly important,” Heid said. “I know there are only 58 students who identify as Native American, but I believe that their culture is something that is extremely important and is engrained in the history of this nation and is often something that is overlooked.”
The act and amendment passed unanimously. The 2018 UI Powwow and Round Dance will take place on April 13 and 14 in the Field House.