Sun Apr 28th, 2019
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: News, Top Stories
Tags: 55th Annual Hozhoni Days Powwow, Ally Gee, April Yazza, Brianna GoodTracks-Alires, Dr. James Jefferson, Edd Girl Art, Edward Box III, Gourd Dance, Hozhoni Ambassador, Hozhoni Ambassador Pageant Judge, Jr. Miss Southern Ute Autumn Sage, Kieley White Thunder, Lacey Tewanema, Lorraine Watts, Miss Southern Ute Jazmine Carmenoros, Olyvia Watts, Ruthie Edd, Shayne White Thunder, Sierra Edd, U.S. Army Veteran Bruce LeClaire
Contestants, spectators and students of all ages from around the nation came together to listen to talented drum groups, visit with one another and dance the night away starting on Friday, April, 12 through Saturday, April 13 during Fort Lewis College’s 55th Annual Hozhoni Days Powwow. The powwow is a celebration of multigenerational cultures.
The two-day event keeps Fort Lewis College’s Whalen Gymnasium packed with hundreds of people watching the annual celebration of Native American culture. The echoing of jingling dresses, eagle whistling and shuffling of powwow regalia can be heard throughout the gym.
“This powwow is a way to celebrate not only my culture, but a lot of others—I love coming back,” Southern Ute elder, Andrew Frost stated. “It’s my favorite powwow, because it feels like home.”
Dating back to 1966, Hozhoni Days was first started when a group of students who called themselves the Shalako Indian Club cultivated the first on campus powwow. Fast-forward a few years down the road, when that same Native American student group changed its name to “Wanbli Ota” in 1970. To this day, they still organize “the longest standing student led tradition” which is how its described-on Fort Lewis College’s website. Wanbli Ota is a student run, non-profit organization that “promotes cultural diversity on campus as well as in our surrounding communities—anyone is welcome to join and we look forward to meeting you,” the organizations website states.
The creation of the event was by a young Clyde Benally who was a freshman at the time and was asked by Fort Lewis Deans to make the club more active. His solution was to create the Hozhoni Days Powwow. The powwow name was given to the event by Benally who went on to explain that, “Hozhoni is a Dinè (Navajo) word that can be roughly translated to describe something as beautiful, or harmonious.”
Benally graduated in 1968 with a degree in Humanities, but still attends the powwow year after year. He described this year’s event as it being like “taking a walk down memory lane—this year brought back the good memories of the early days of Hozhoni.”
To fully experience the powwow, everyone is encouraged to attend the Hozhoni Ambassador pageant. The pageant is a three-day contest that tests each contestant’s knowledge of public speaking, traditional knowledge (i.e food, traditions and history) and talents. Whomever is crowned the ambassador is representing Wanbli Ota and the Fort Lewis College’s Native community.
This year, the powwow crowned Ally Gee as the new 2019-2020 Hozhoni Ambassador and her first attendant for the 2019-2020 title is Tiarney Andreas. Gee is currently a Sophomore at Fort Lewis and is pursuing her degree in Public Health. Andreas is also a sophomore at FLC who is double majoring in Sociology and Psychology.
In recent years, the Wanbli Ota have remained the prime sponsors of Hozhoni Days but they also host events throughout the school year that include public presentations, speakers and artists workshops as well as cultural performances.