The Powwow, which is hosted by Wunk Sheek and the University of Wisconsin Madison, draws about 6,000 people each year. This year’s powwow will be on April 1st and 2nd at the Alliant Energy Center.
Wunk Sheek is a student organization on the UW-Madison campus that provides a social space for students of indigenous background, as well as all members of the UW-Madison community interested in indigeneity. The student organizers of Wunk Sheek have organized UW Madison’s Powwow for the last 48 years. This year the main organizers of the powwow are seniors Emily Nelis and Arianna GreenCrow. Their responsibilities include finding Head Staff and Host Drums, securing funding, advertising and much more.
“If it were not for Wunk Sheek’s efforts, such a large scale Native cultural event would not be happening at UW,” says Nelis, who has helped organize the last three Powwows. “For me personally, I appreciate being able to plan a powwow here because I’ve grown up going to powwows and been a part of powwow culture since I was young. As a student who came to Madison from the Bad River Indian reservation, there was a huge culture shock being away from what I knew as a Native womyn on the rez and coming to a predominately white campus where Native people are less than 1% of the student population. I learned that continuing to practice my culture while at school help me stay grounded. Bringing a powwow to campus each year truly helps me as a Native student stay connected to who I am as an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe woman).”
Wunk Sheek also works in conjunction with Nichole Boyd, community and campus liaison of the University’s American Indian Pathways to Educational Achievement office. Boyd serves as an advisor for Wunk Sheek and assists with fleshing out logistics for not only the annual powwow, but programming throughout the year.
This powwow is notably one of the largest cultural events for Native students on UW-Madison’s campus. Given the size of this event, Wunk Sheek will need at least 200 volunteers of the course of the two day event. Volunteer shifts will be from three to four hours and prior to the event with a mandatory training session between March 27th-29th. People can volunteer as individuals or as a group. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Nichole Boyd.
This piece was produced by a student reporter in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more or support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.