Around Campus

‘Meeting native North Carolina’

The annual powwow, hosted by a Carolina student group, aims to share American Indian culture with the University community.

Feet of powwow dancer
31st Annual Carolina Indian Circle Powwow held at Fetzer Gymnasium on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. March 3, 2018. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The Carolina Indian Circle celebrated its 31st annual powwow March 3 at Fetzer Gym with dancers from all eight of North Carolina’s American Indian tribes showcasing their culture.

Hosted annually by the student organization, the powwow is an opportunity to share American Indian culture with the wider Carolina community.

“There are so many people who don’t know about our culture or who don’t know we have such a strong presence on UNC’s campus,” said Elena Polanco, co-chair of the powwow committee and member of the Lumbee Tribe. “To be able to see people truly enjoy themselves and truly learn something from the powwow is a great experience for me.”

During the afternoon-long event, spectators, including Chancellor Carol L. Folt, surrounded the powwow circle as dancers dressed in brightly colored regalia of feathers and furs spun around the arena to the beat of hide drums.

While the event served as a competition for the dancers, the powwow also provided a chance for the audience to immerse themselves in the culture by stepping into the powwow circle themselves.

“We have different dances for spectators to come and join us in the arena, which is a fun way for us to share our culture with other people,” Polanco said. “It’s a good way to meet native North Carolina.

“I really just want people to know that we’re still here and that we’re a strong presence on this campus even though we be might a smaller percentage.”