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Annual Intertribal Powwow draws crowd to Fort Omaha Campus

The Parade Ground at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha Campus was filled Saturday afternoon with brightly colored traditional regalia, teepees and onlookers ready to celebrate Native American cultures and history.

The College was the site of the 27thannual Fort Omaha Campus Intertribal Powwow. The Parade Ground, the Powwow’s setting since its inception, is the same location Ponca Chief Standing Bear awaited trial in the 1800s, offering a historical backdrop to the event.

“This has been a meaningful experience for the College for many years,” said MCC president Randy Schmailzl. 

Led by a broad winged hawk from the Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery Program, dancers from different tribes entered the arena in the Grand Entry demonstrating Unity in the Community, the theme of this year’s powwow. Some of the tribes present included Omaha, Ponca, Winnebago, Santee Sioux, Oglala Lakota, Sicangu Lakota, Osage and Otoe.

Kara Eastman, vice chair of the MCC Board of Governors and candidate for U.S. Congress was present to speak to those in attendance. 

“I am someone who will fight for sovereign states,” Eastman said with cheers from the crowd. “I believe indigenous people should have a seat at the table when we make decisions.”

Lisa Odjig, Odawa/Ojibwe, a two-time world champion hoop dancer fromCanada, was a featured special presenter. Odjig performed a hoop dance solo and then invited audience members into the arena to hoop dance with her. She has performed around the world and for Queen Elizabeth II, the Prime Minister of Canada and at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Along with watching traditional dance performances, visitors had the opportunity to shop at various vendors, eat food from food trucks and tents, complete arts and crafts, learn more about the Raptor Recovery program at Fontenelle Forest and see what the inside of a teepee looked like. The Powwow also featured children’s activities. 

The 27thannual Fort Omaha Intertribal Powwow was made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts. The event was funded in part by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners’ Visitors Improvement Fund.