UCSC Pow-Wow

     In the 1990’s, the UCSC annual pow wow drew visitors from all across California to the campus to celebrate American Indian pow wow culture and identity. Modern pow wows, such as what are held in California, are cultural gatherings that bring together American Indian peoples from all tribes and nations in the Americas, inclusive of Canada, Mexico, and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. The event celebrates the songs, dances, and contemporary lifeways and arts of American Indian peoples in a “pan-tribal” atmosphere of fellowship, trust, respect, and empowerment. The old UCSC pow wow brought students, staff and faculty together with community members to spotlight American Indian cultures. The last UCSC pow wow occurred in 1998, and was dormant until academic year 2011-12 when the American Indian Resource Center hosted the Drum Feast in Honor of Sophia Garcia Robles on May 24th, 2012, at Oakes Lawn. The Drum Feast brought together students, staff, faculty, and community members, including the Amah Mutsun Band of Ohlone, the descendants of Santa Cruz’ original inhabitants, and White Hawk Aztec Dancers to celebrate the cultures of American Indian peoples across the Americas. The event paid special tribute to the late Sophia Garcia-Robles, an American Indian/Chicana financial aid officer on campus, whose many contributions to the campus and community are too numerous to mention in this short space. Sophia’s dedication to the students and community of UCSC and Santa Cruz is legendary; she was an instrumental part of the Santa Cruz Indian Council that assisted UCSC students in putting on the old UCSC pow wow. In 2013, the American Indian Resource Center sponsored with 2nd Memorial Pow Wow at the Oakes Field on April 27th the first. Attendance doubled, and student participation was even greater as the amount of students who volunteers recruited for the event outside of the AIRC was a total of thirty three students. The event was well-attended, with over three hundred students, faculty, staff, and community members in attendance. This year, with the funding assistance, the AIRC hopes to partner with SANAI and other campus organizations as well as community partners such as Santa Cruz Indian Council and Barrios Unidos to make the 3rd staff and professional staff worked diligently to raise funds for the pow wow, and campus support, although generous, is drying up due to budget cuts and Measure 7 sweeps. One of the most daunting of all the tasks is the fundraising for the event, and although the AIRC is growing, our numbers of newly admitted American Indian students has decreased by exactly fifty percent. Permanent funding from SFAC will allow students to spend more time on planning and development of the event and less time fundraising, thereby consolidating resources to more community development and outreach. Pow Wows on college campuses also are a long-term investment in that families of dancers and singers, as well as other participants, are exposed to higher education and influenced by the work of the American Indian student leaders on campus. In addition to an investment for current American Indian students, the Pow Wow funding is also an investment in future students as well as bringing a sense of recognition to UCSC as a campus that welcomes American Indian students, families, and community members from a very early age.