AIC Powwow: a celebration of culture and community

The American Indian Council (AIC) Powwow is a tradition at MSU that has continued for over four decades, celebrating its 42nd gathering this year, on April 14-15.


For two days, the regional American Indian community gathered at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in a continuation and celebration of their cultural traditions. The powwow was opened by Lawrence Killsback and Jason Goodstriker, the two Masters of Ceremonies, with a song performed by the hosting drum circle, Northern Cree, the world’s premier Powwow and Round Dance singing group.


Killsback, with his enthusiastic laughter, led the crowd through the plans for the weekend where he outlined the many dance competitions, singing competitions and inter-tribal dances that were to take place. A presentation of flags by the color guard signaled the beginning of introductions to the Blackfeet Warrior society, to the head staff at the powwow and to the Powwow Royalty. Afterwards, prominent members of the Native American Studies department at MSU — Lisa Stevenson and Francesca Rodriguez — were honored. Then, the dancing began in earnest.


The dancers at the powwow swayed and stomped around the Fieldhouse floor to the rhythmic music of Northern Cree in a way that was both passionate and intense. At the same time, the floor was filled with friends carrying on conversations and toddlers attempting their first official powwow sanctioned dances. Throughout Friday night and all day Saturday, there was a total of 11 dances of this style occurring between stories and announcements made by the two Masters of Ceremonies and by the more structured dancing competitions. Alongside the dancing there was a bustling marketplace full of goods and food for sale.

Saturday began with a 5k run, a basketball tournament, a breakfast and an Easter egg hunt. Instead of dancing competitions between the inter-tribal dances there were announcements and ceremonies designed to honor a select few among the people present at the powwow. The members of the Powwow Royalty were announced and the Princesses of the Powwow were elected. Both groups of royalty proceeded to lead processions in their respective honors. Saturday drew to a close around 10 p.m. with the Masters of Ceremonies wishing everyone in attendance a safe journey home.  

The women’s regalia is reminiscent of a bird in flight.
Photos by Chris Sandison
The different competition groups marched together during the opening ceremonies each day.
The Eagle Staff and the flags of the represented nations gather for the opening songs by the Northern Cree drum circle.
The Northern Cree Drum circle was invited to be the host drum at this years Pow Wow.
A Chicken Dancer makes his way through the inner circles during the opening ceremony.