BSU powwow brings in performers from all over North America

Posted at 6:06 PM, Apr 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-23 20:10:59-04

A competition that draws performers from all over the U.S. and Canada took place in the Treasure Valley this weekend. It was part of the Seven Arrows Powwow at Boise State University.

The powwow is a chance for the public to experience the Native American culture but most importantly a way for tribes from all over North America to come together as one.

The emcee here cant just be anyone, rather it's a person who is experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of the their culture and customs. Tyson Shay is inching closer to serving as an emcee for almost a decade now. He travels all over.

"Powwows are a time to socialize, it's a time of celebration," Shay says. "This is a time to bring out laughter but, at the same time, you can be competitive in the ways of dancing yet they're still upholding culture to the highest integrity."

Native Americans in attendance share their tribes' songs, culture, stories and language.

A first for the event, 13 drum bands. It's the most they've ever hosted.

It's the Intertribal Native Council of Boise State that invites everyone to come to Idaho. Idaho tribal members are also in attendance. Their goal is to make Native American students at BSU feel welcome.

"We kind of try to do things to where they feel at home too at Boise State and to feel connected to their culture and still feel like they have a sense of that no matter how far away from home they are," says Tanyka Begaye, the co-director of the powwow.

The performers, elders and youngsters dance in a circle with the eldest generation leading the way. They say it's a time to remember where they came from and where they're going.

It's also competition for the dancers, many of whom handmade their outfits.

It took Elizabeth Sam, a nurse from the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Duck Valley, six months to a year to complete hers. She enjoys being part of a tradition that she believes will live on forever.

"We're indigenous to this area and to this country," she says. "We're here, we're alive and we just want to make sure that we are still seen and heard."

Non-perishable food donations were accepted at the door for the Native American Coalition of Boise nonprofit group.

This is the 24th year for the BSU students' tradition.