Campus News

Powwow on campus honors Native American heritage

Kinimibena! Kinakamobena! Kimemetayaibena! Translated those three words mean “We will dance, we will sing, we will have a good time,” which was the feeling of the night on Nov. 7, as the Meskwaki Annual Powwow Association presented Native American Heritage Night at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center.  

November is National American Indian Heritage month and the Meskwaki Annual Powwow Association, along with Morgan Bear, TRIO program advisor, hosted the event to commemorate and educate on the history of Indigenous people. 

Bear said, “I want to make it very clear that this was solely to introduce the Meskwaki community/culture to the Kirkwood/Cedar Rapids community, as well as promote higher education across current students, prospective students, etc. We had students from Kirkwood TRIO and from Kirkwood’s Black Student Union helping at the event and working different stations.” 

Stations from Kirkwood Community College, University of Northern Iowa, the Meskwaki Nation and Meskwaki Higher Education Program, along with hand crafted items were available for sale as well as raffle/auction items and catered snacks. 

The event started with the MCs of the Meskwaki Annual Powwow Association giving guests and visitors a history of the Meskwaki Nation, the powwow and the powwow dance regalia.

Some of the elaborate pieces at the powwow have been passed down from generation to generation.  It typically takes many years to build, sew, and/or acquire the majestic pieces. 

Whether recently created, purchased, or passed down, each piece has been painstakingly hand-created and has a story to tell of both historical significance and individual creativity.  The making of powwow dance regalia is an art form all its own and is one of the most powerful symbols of a dancer’s native identity. 

The first dance was the Grand Entry where all dancers entered the arena area. This was followed by the Friendship Dance, a universal dance among all tribal nations that welcomes all visitors and guests to the host tribe.  The Friendship Dance expresses goodwill and friendship among all humankind, which a lot of the guests/visitors took part in.  

Other dances performed were Men’s Traditional, Men’s Grass Style, Women’s Shawl or Fancy and Women’s Jingle. The dancers moved to the sounds of Powwow singers who are highly regarded as the keepers of their songs.  Originally, songs were sung in the language of the singer.  As different tribes gathered, the use of vocables (words that are a combination of certain sounds without meaning) evolved so that singers could share songs.  These songs hold significant meaning to those who know them.  

This year Native American Heritage Day is Nov. 24. It is celebrated the day after Thanksgiving each year. For more information on the Meskwaki Nation visit their website at or

Image courtesy of Jeff Sigmund | Kirkwood Communiqué

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