Gathering of Nations, not the only gig in town

Fancy Dancer at UNM Nizhoni Days
Folks from tribes near and far
Zotigh Singers
Sacred Cypher 2014
Pageant contestants
Alpha Pi Omega Sorority
Cody Artis (Navajo)
One of the 90 vendors
UNM KIVA Club Talking Circle
Fashion designers
Fancy Dancer at UNM Nizhoni Days 2014 powwow in Albuquerque, N.M.
Folks from tribes near and far lined up for the community feed during the UNM Nizhoni Days 2014.
Zotigh Singers at UNM Nizhoni Days 2014 powwow in Albuquerque, N.M.
Sacred Cypher 2014, sponsored by Native Health Initiative, was a popular event that took place at the University of New Mexico Nizhoni Days 2014 event in Albuquerque, N.M.
Pageant contestants vying for the 2014 Miss Indian UNM crown from left to right: Melodie Cruz from Ohkay Owingeh, Alicia Tsosie and Tia Benally, both of the Navajo Nation.
Members of the Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc., dance with the six contestants vying for the UNM Mutton King 2014-2015 title.
Cody Artis (Navajo), hams it up for the audience after being crowned the Mutton King 2014-2015 during the UNM Nizhoni Days 2014.
One of the 90 vendors at the UNM Nizhoni Days “Honoring Our Alumni” powwow held at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. on April 27, 2014.
UNM KIVA Club Talking Circle, Nizhoni Days 2014 event in Albuquerque, N.M.
Fashion designers Darin Tom (Navajo/Blackfoot) and Jacob Salabiye (Navajo) deconstruct a garment at the Unsettle: Queer Indigenous Performances event held during UNM Nizhoni Days 2014.
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Miss Indian UNM Pageant

The Miss Indian UNM Pageant was held April 21, at UNM Keller Hall. This years’ Miss Indian UNM pageant had three contestants; Alicia Tsosie, Tia Benally, both of the Navajo Nation, and Melodie Cruz from Ohkay Owingeh.

Each contestant was required to present a traditional talent and answer a randomly selected question on an Indigenous issue. Points were tallied before the competition for fundraising, and a written essay. The talent portion of the competition was varied and included, the Butterfly Dance from Ohkay Owingeh by Cruz, a health care skit in Navajo by Benally, and a traditional Navajo song sung by Tsosie.

Tsosie was named Miss Congeniality and runner-up. Melodie Cruz was crowned Miss Indian UNM 2014.

“I’d like to thank all of the people who kept me strong,” Cruz said upon receiving her title.

The first place prizes included a Pendleton blanket, a $500 scholarship, and hand-made pottery.

 

KIVA Alumni Talking Circle

The Talking Circle was held on April 22, from noon to 2 p.m. outside at the Lobo Gardens. Cheyenne Antonio, the vice president of the KIVA Club, stated that the main goal of the Talking Circle is to keep the members motivated through inspiration. The Talking Circle is a safe place for students to talk about anything that they may be facing in school, in their personal lives or in the community, she said.

Mary Alice Tsosie, a former KIVA Club advisor, said, “As KIVA members, students get to know what they are committed about as a Native, having community and providing growth.”

A mix of 13 alums and current student KIVA members attended, discussion included finding everyone’s “balance” and the power of the club as a whole. Leona Morgan, alum, led the talking circle with introductions and encouraged others to share their experience and to talk about what the club means to them.

This club is all about being there for one another as a community Leona Morgan said. “We’re here to support one another,”

UNM student organization since 1952, KIVA Club’s primary focus has been to be a Native community for students on campus and bring awareness to Native American issues.

“It’s good to have somewhere to go to talk to people who want to listen to you” KIVA alum, Kelly Francisco said. “KIVA Club was really good for me because it helped me learn a lot about myself.”

 

Mutton King

The 7th annual Mutton King pageant took place on April 25, hosted by Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc., (APiO). Six contestants were vying for the title, Cody Artis, Kyon Benally, Dexter Dee, Pablo John, Wilfred Jumbo and Amidooli Pacheco.

The pageant consisted of four categories; in the first category contestants had to give a two-minute improv story using props provided.

The second category was called “Round Dance Romance,” where a song was played and each contestant, one at a time, had to wait until the song stopped and then had to complete the song by singing a verse to serenade the crowd.

The third category included two educational related questions each contestant had to answer. One of the questions involved information about UNM and the other, about the sorority.

The fourth and final category was a frybread-making contest.

Previously reigning Mutton King, Mika Boyd, handed over the brand new crown to Cody Artis, a sophomore at the University of New Mexico.

Artis, the new reigning Mutton King 2014-2015, beat out the other five contestants with 43 points.

“We really wanted to make this a fun event that allowed people to come out of their shell and have a good time,”  APiO member Kayla Kowemy said.

 

Unsettle

The Unsettle: Queer Indigenous Performances event was held April 25, at the University of New Mexico.

It was a night full of creative performances including music, poetry, fashion design, spoken word, videos and jewelry.

Performers were from Arizona, New Mexico and surrounding Native American communities. About 80 people attended the event.

The music was mostly electric and had a very unique sound, along with the videos and art design.

This is the first year this event has been held, co-organizer of the event, Matthew Skeets said. He started this event as a class project to just pull a few people together and it ended up turning into a huge event.

“The main reason I wanted to hold this event was to give the queer indigenous people a voice,” Skeets said.

He wanted it to be held at the end of Nizhoni week to show a contrast in the theme of this event as opposed to the theme of all the other events involved in Nizhoni days.

He said he wants the queer indigenous to feel like they can express themselves in any way that they want without feeling like they have to hide who they are.

The range of performances included a reading from Lyle Yazzie (Navajo) of Star Lake, New Mexico, his poem focused on resistance and survival. Additional performances included spoken word by Asdzanii Rae, her poems – including the Navajo language and English – detailing her grandmothers weaving and her Diné identity.

Writer and advocate, Jeremy Yazzie, touched upon his struggle with drugs, alcohol, suicide and his road to sobriety through his poetry. Katrina Benally, sang and rapped about her identity including her song titled “Let’s drive, let’s cruise,” about her upbringing in Gallup, New Mexico.

Other performances included fashion and design, with music by Discotays, a Navajo queer electronic band from northern New Mexico and southeastern Utah. For more about event check twitter for #unsettle and # indigiqueer.

 

Nizhoni Days “Honoring our Alumni” Powwow

As the sound of drumming and singing took over the University of New Mexico campus, it was apparent that the high winds couldn’t stop the Nizhoni days “Honoring Our Alumni” Powwow from taking place.

The powwow was held in indoors at the UNM Student Union Building ballroom where hundreds gathered and squeezed together for a celebration of community, culture and identity. The powwow culminates a week of Nizhoni Days’ events. Vendors lined the entrances and walkways, as lively participants and people from the community moved in and out to see the variety of dances and events.

“It was definitely an experience, for a year we had been planning to have the powwow outside. Without the hard work of the community and KIVA club members we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off,” Cheyenne Antonio, KIVA Club vice president.said.

There were over 90 vendors at the event, and many of them expressed relief at the lower booth costs in comparison to the Gathering of Nations.

“When UNM hosts, it has direct contrast in economic value, at UNM it’s about giving back to the community, its energy is clean because it’s investing in the academic area,” Amidooli Pacheco, a jewelry vendor from Kewa Pueblo said.

Dancers and participants along with both host southern and northern drum groups, Young Bucz and Young Bear, helped to turn the ballroom into a complete celebration of Native heritage and culture. Nine drum groups attended, and Ralph Zotigh of Zotigh Singers, said “I thought it was an excellent powwow it contained all the ingredients of tradition for Native American people, it helps to become cohesive, helps students to be proud.” and “A part of that is support, everyone is there for a purpose and that is to support the KIVA Club, because they work hard and it is up to the community to pat them on the back and let them know, that is why my group is there to let them know we are proud of them, we have to support the way of Indian life displayed at UNM.”

In addition to the powwow a mix of hip-hop dance met Indigenous dance, Native Health Initiative hosted Sacred Cypher 2014 in the lower atrium of the SUB.

As the festivities raved on, a free community feast was organized for all those in attendance. Stews, beans, salads, desserts, oven and frybread were among some of the items served that day by UNM students, faculty and alumni.

“I enjoy dancing and interacting with the other dancers from all over,” Keira Sandoval, 13, a fancy shawl dancer, from the Pueblo of San Felipe, and Navajo said.

UNM student, Leoyla Cowboy (Diné), attended the powwow with her husband and two grandchildren.

“This was an important event for my family to attend and I especially wanted to teach them (the grandchildren) about Native cultures,” Cowboy said.

 

Dawn of Nations Today is a publication created by the NATV 450/T Native American Digital Journalism course taught by instructor Mary K. Bowannie and lead professional mentor Andrea D. Hanks, as part of the Native American Studies department at the University of New Mexico. Dawn of Nations Today past editions can viewed at http://nas.unm.edu/don-archive.html

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