Indigenous Student Alliance Produces Pacific's First Powwow

Since its inception, the mission of the Pacific University Indigenous Student Alliance has been to bring together Indigenous cultures to explore identity, celebrate heritage and strengthen representation.

The alliance invites the broader community to be part of that mission on Saturday, May 4, as it hosts its inaugural Reconciliation Powwow at the Stoller Center on Pacific’s Forest Grove Campus. The event runs from noon to 10 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is free.

The powwow will feature dance exhibitions and music by members of various Pacific Northwest Native American tribes along with food, art and craft vendors.

The student-organized event is designed to honor and remember students who were part of the Forest Grove Indian School, an off-reservation boarding school that operated near downtown Forest Grove from 1880 to 1885. It also celebrates the thriving Indigenous cultures of the region today.

Nikol Roubidoux, the advisor for the Indigenous Student Alliance, says that the gathering provides a chance for the community to not only celebrate the area’s native cultures but also an opportunity to learn about those cultures and their connections to the land.

“Powwows are not like other events,” Roubidoux said. “Stops and starts are frequent. There will be giveaways, exhibition dances from our Indigenous cousins, and tiny tots showing off their dance skills for the first time. If this is your first powwow, we ask that you be patient, respectful and, most of all, have fun.”

The event will be punctuated by a pair of grand entries at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The ceremonial start of the powwow, dancers enter the gym single-file behind an honor guard with flags celebrating the participating tribes.

Members of the Indigenous Student Alliance say that while there is a schedule of traditional dances, they will only occur if there are dancers to participate. The schedule is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Like most traditional powwows, the event will be laid back, allowing dancers and musicians to collaborate and participate with each other.

The Indigenous Student Alliance will also have an information table about the university’s proposed longhouse project, which was identified by Pacific’s Board of Trustees as a priority project at its December 2023 meeting.

For more information, contact Roubidoux at 503-352-2777 or, or visit the Indigenous Student Alliance online.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024