Meet Larissa Schneidewind, Hannah Bartol and Olivia Manitowabi-McCullough. For the past three years, these Central Michigan University students have worked with the staff in Native American Programs and fellow students to plan one of the largest cultural events on campus – the CMU Pow wow.
Their months of hard work will pay off as CMU hosts the 27th annual CMU Pow wow, "Celebrating Life," March 19 and 20 at the CMU Events Center. The event is open to the public, and admission is free for CMU students.
Organizing the pow wow is more than just any job or leadership experience for this trio. The two-day event is an opportunity to bring together CMU students and outside communities – Native and non-Native – to celebrate and learn about Native American culture, interact across generations, ask questions, sample food and enjoy the company of relatives or those who have become like family.
"I get to educate others, but I'm also learning," said Hannah Bartol, a junior from Wilson and co-chair of the CMU Pow wow. "It has given me a kind of leadership experience that I didn't have before."
Serving on the planning committee as a CMU student also has become a family legacy for Bartol and committee member Manitowabi-McCullough, also a junior from Wilson. Both students had relatives who served on the committee and participated in the event before they were CMU students. As they looked toward college, the chance to help plan the pow wow was one of many things that made them excited about coming to CMU.
Co-chair Schneidewind, a senior from Peck, says one of her favorite parts of the event is the Grand Entry – the moment when head dancers lead participants into McGuirk Arena – which she says is equal parts beautiful and powerful.
Bartol and Schneidewind hope fellow CMU students and the Mount Pleasant community will come and learn more about Native American culture.
"Sometimes, we don't know what we don't know, but anyone can come and ask questions of volunteers at the event," Schneidewind said. "That is how I learned. I'm a non-Native student, but I always feel welcome and at home."
Hundreds from tribes in the U.S. and Canada will take part in this year's pow wow, hosted in partnership with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The event includes dance and drumming competitions. Planning committee members and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions. Attendees also receive a program that explains the meaning behind traditional regalia, songs and dances.
In addition to observing Native American dance and drumming, attendees may sample traditional food and shop at the booths of more than 20 vendors.
Doors open at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Grand entries take place Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at noon. For the general public, tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for elders and children. Admission is free for children four years or under. A weekend pass also may be purchased for $15.
For more information on the event, dignitaries and special admission, visit the
CMU Pow wow event page.