National Powwow XVI in Review
Chris Bryant, Chairman of the National Powwow Committee, says this gathering is not about something from the past, that American Indian culture is very alive today and people can see this at National Powwow. We certainly did. There were various dances and specials in the arena; outdoor and indoor areas with traders selling jewelry, silver, blankets and other crafts; a tipi village; activities for the children; and more.
I personally attended the powwow all four days and, along with our team in the AIEF booth, shared many visits with Natives and non-Natives alike. Although people were there to enjoy the dancers, shop for jewelry and crafts with the vendors, and generally experience American Indian culture, some of the visitors also had more on their minds. What struck me the most was the genuine care of people toward American Indians and their appreciation for the work of our AIEF program. Here are just a few examples:
- One advocate who has donated both time and money to assist the Navajo said that he really appreciates it when organizations like [AIEF] get out there to really help people.
- One couple was cognizant of a very real need for assistance on the reservations but was unaware of NRC or our AIEF program. I learned they had been looking for an organization that does what it says it will do, i.e., use a donation for education or other services as intended by a donor. Happily, I could assure them that more than 70% of donations go toward our programs each year (compared to the industry standard of 65%) and that 95% of Native students receiving AIEF scholarships complete the college year (compared to a national average of 21%).
- Equally important, an Apache woman said she wished there had been a program around like AIEF when she was going to school. Working with our AIEF program, mentoring our scholarship students, and knowing that we shaped our AIEF services around Native American culture, challenges and norms, I took this to be both insightful and a message of hope to indigenous students throughout the U.S.
I appreciate the committee putting on the National Powwow every three years and NRC being a premier sponsor of the gathering this year. And I really enjoyed meeting all of you who visited our booth and shared your hearts with us. Thank you for your mindfulness and care.