Happy Mother’s Day from NASU: The Native American Student Union’s annual Mother’s Day Pow Wow

The University of Oregon Native American Student Union hosts is 49th annual UO Mother’s Day Pow Wow at McArthur Court on May 12 and 13, 2017. (Amanda Shigeoka/Emerald)

This weekend, McArthur Court will be filled with drum beats, dancing and traditional Native American wares during the 51st annual Mother’s Day Powwow, organized by the Native American Student Union. The powwow kicks off on Friday evening at 6 p.m. with events throughout the weekend.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event, said Bret Gilbert, a co-director of NASU and senior general sciences major at the University of Oregon.

The powwow is recognized by the Oregon Parks and Recreation as an Oregon Heritage Tradition. Out of the 22 recognized traditions, the Mother’s Day Powwow is the only one that has a university affiliation.

“It’s just really powerful for the presence of our culture, the celebration of our culture and for sharing that with maybe our friends and family of other students who have never been introduced to Native culture,” he said of the powwow.   

The event is completely organized and funded by students, with ASUO covering half of the $30,000-funding and the other half coming from fundraising, Gilbert said, who is also the fundraising chair of this year’s event.

“It’s a testimate to every year having those student leaders step up and get this done because it’s different students planning it every year, and for 50 years no one has dropped the ball, per say,” said Gilbert.

For the first time this year, the powwow will feature a Miss Indian pageant. The winner of the pageant will be crowned on Saturday. The winner will be “someone who can champion the heritage and the perseverance of our heritage,” said Gilbert.

“All of the contestants for this year’s pageant are beautiful examples of young women who are ambitious in their academic careers, ambitious in their professional careers and extremely compassionate and passionate about giving back to their community and finding ways to inspire young persons,” Gilbert said.

Also on Saturday, graduating seniors will be honored with a traditional blanket. Throughout the weekend, there will be traditional dance competitions ranging in category from traditional to grass and jingle.

On Sunday, the powwow will wrap up with a salmon bake at the Many Nations Longhouse, with food served at 1 p.m. Throughout the weekend, Native American vendors will be selling their goods at the event.

The event will recognize and celebrate Native American people throughout the state, indigenous educators and students. It also offers young Natives a glimpse at the university life.

“Above all we’re honoring our mothers. We do it on Mother’s day for a reason,” said Gilbert. “Many Native cultures are very matriarchal which kind of runs counter to dominant culture. It’s fun to take a look at a traditional culture that was built upside-down from what we’re used to.”

Emily is a senior news reporter for the Emerald. She covers student organizations on campus and is interested in covering small community news through solutions journalism. She is a journalism and Spanish double major.