UNM communities unite to celebrate indigenous culture

Photo Credit: Ace Stryker | The Southern Ute Drum

Editors note: Student reporters in the NATV 450 T/Native American Digital Journalism course at the University of New Mexico who contributed to the preview: Matthew Burr; Josh Dunlap; Kateri Eisenberg; Valerie Epaloose; Jesse Gallegos; Elisha Garcia.

The University of New Mexico (UNM) Nizhoni Days was first conducted in 1955. KIVA club was a major proponent of Nizhoni days as a week of celebration and sharing of American Indian culture with UNM students, staff, faculty, and local community.

This upcoming Nazhoni Days will be the week of April 20-27. Daily events will take place on the UNM main campus.


KIVA sunrise ceremony

Nizhoni Days kicks off with the KIVA sunrise ceremony. The ceremony will take place 6 a.m. April 20, at UNM Johnson Field. The week begins with blessings from community tribal and religious leaders.

“This is a great way to start Nizhoni Days and to receive a blessing throughout the week,” Cheyenne Antonio, KIVA club vice president, said.

As the sun rises from the east, the blessing and ceremony will begin. All perspectives and beliefs are invited to attend.


Miss Indian UNM pageant

Miss Indian UNM Pageant will be held at 6 p.m. April 21, in Keller Hall.

“There is so much that goes along with the Miss Indian UNM title, the lady who wins needs to be able to balance their school life and the demands of Miss Indian UNM successfully,” Catherine Montoya, student program specialist in the American Indian Student Services (AISS) and organizerm, said.

The process begins in February, consisting of an academic application and a written essay. Contestants are selected based on three additional criteria a fundraising raffle, a traditional talent, and an impromptu question on the night of pageant.

This year three contestants are running for Miss Indian UNM they are: Tia Benally (Navajo), Melodi Cruz (Ohkay Owingeh), and Alicia Tsosie (Navajo). The reigning Miss Indian UNM Delilah Kinsel (Navajo) is a sophomore majoring in engineering. More information please visit:


KIVA alumni talking circle

The KIVA alumni talking circle is on Earth Day, April 22, from noon to 2 p.m. The Event is at the Lobo Gardens located on the corner of Redondo and Campus Road, also known as the Real Estate Bldg.

“The goal of the talking circle, is to reconnect KIVA current members and alums and to talk about the issues and fill in the gaps on what was happening back then to what is happening now,” Antonio said.


American Indian Student Services (AISS) Spring Social

At 3 p.m. April 23, the American Indian Student Services will be hosting their first Spring Social outside in the west courtyard of Mesa Vista Hall at the UNM.

In the past AISS has hosted a Fall Welcome Back Social, but never a Spring Social. This Spring semester, the student employees decided to have a Spring Social to combine separate holidays like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day,” Melodi Cruz, AISS student employee, said.

Various games, food, and music will be provided for enjoyment, prizes include lobo cash, bookstore gift cards, and a cap and gown for one lucky graduate this Spring semester.

The Spring Social is a free event with funding provided by AISS. Tickets can be picked up at Mesa Vista Hall 1119.


American Indian Business Association

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24, the American Indian Business Association will be holding its 8th annual Native American career fair at Anderson School of Management Jackson Student Center.

AIBA is a professional organization that aims to build and stimulate tribal economic development, offering first hand business experience for students.

“The career fair will have employers from Native American organizations and tribal employment opportunities as well as non-Native companies and organizations,” and “sponsors for this year’s fair are the Bear Sponsor: AMERIND Risk Management and the Wolf Sponsor: Verizon Wireless,” Jaye Francis, coordinator for the Center for Indigenous Development and job fair organizer said.

Additional booths include Carrington College, Department of the Interior – Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, Marine Corps Officers Program, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Office of Navajo Labor Relations, Presbyterian Centennial Care, Sacred Power Corporation and many others.

The career fair is open and free to the public; professional attire and a resume are recommended. More information visit


UNM Diné Club, Royalty Day

Royalty Day is from 10 a.m. to noon April 24, in the UNM SUB Lobo A.

“Many people in this world still believe that women cannot lead and Royalty Day proves this statement to be false,” Wilfred Jumbo, president of Diné Club said.

Participants will include; Miss Navajo Nation, Miss Indian New Mexico, Miss Indian UNM, Miss Intertribal Ceremonial Queen, local high school royalty and other pueblo royalty.

The participants will speak about the importance of their culture and do a motivational speech for students to continue their journey as college students.


Navajo Language Program spring speaker: Sunny Dooley

The Navajo Language Program will host speaker, Sunny Dooley, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. April 24, on the third floor of the UNM SUB, Lobo A & B.

Dooley will be retelling Navajo Blessing-way stories. There will be a free lunch served following the presentation and a special performance by former Miss Navajo, Dolly Manson.

In addition, there will be a showing of the sci-fi classic “Star Wars” dubbed completely in Navajo from 2 p.m. to 3:30pm.

The day’s events are free and open to the public


Alpha Phi Omega-Mutton King Contest

The Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Omega sorority will host the 7th Annual Mutton King Contest from noon to 1 p.m April 25, in the Mesa Vista west courtyard of UNM.

The Mutton King is a mock informal pageant that is open to any males attending UNM.

The reigning Mutton King, Mika Boyd, will hand off the sash, a new crown and cash prize to the new king.

More than a mock pageant, the Mutton King must compete in events that adhere to the APO-Delta Chapter principals of: traditionalism, spirituality, contemporary issues, and education.

Some of the past events have been fry bread making contest, best pick up line, a dance off, clay models of what spirituality means to you, and impromptu storytelling.


Unsettle: Queer Indigenous Performance Event

Presenting, for the first-time ever, Unsettle: Queer Indigenous Performance Event.The event is taking place 7 p.m April 25, in Ballroom C of the UNM SUB.

Featured discotays, Ryan Young and Kirsten Gentry, will perform on a night full of art meant to open up spaces for queer indigeneity.

UNM Men of Color Alliance, LGBTQ Resource Center and the Graduate and Professional Student Association will host the event.


Nizhoni Days Powwow Honoring our Alumni

The 59th Annual Nizhoni Days “Honoring our Alumni” Powwow is a celebration of Native heritage and culture sharing with the community. The powwow takes place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m April 2, UNM Johnson Field.

“While sharing Native culture, we are also showing unity when coming together,” Antonio said.

Dancers and drum groups both Northern and Southern from across Indian Country will be participating in the powwow. Contests, pageants and other festivities will be a part of the celebration.

Everyone is invited to attend for free. Food and other items will be for sale through various venders on the field.



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