On April 11th 2015 I was able to attend the 43rd annual UC Davis Powwow in Davis CA. I arrived at the powwow feeling more like I had arrived at a reunion. When you attend powwows regularly you get familiar with the other tents of people around the arena. I always think my favorite part of being at this gathering is going to be the dancing, and in some ways it is, but the dancing means more when I’ve had a chance to speak with the dancers. Taking the time to get to know the others at powwows has become the best part of my being there.
There is a beautiful reward in being among communities of people as an observer, and as a photographer. I love capturing the movements of the dancers, and of their regalia, but my favorite pictures always end up being the tender family moments in preparation of the dancing, or the quiet moments experienced around the drum circle. I walked around the arena and met Alexis Elmore, Jr. Miss Pit River of the Pit River Yurok. She was a beautifully articulate 8th grader who looked as regal as could be in her crown. She plays basketball, Softball and volleyball and is the Treasurer of the Native American Education Club at her school. Her mother made all of her regalia. Her cousin Alexis Anderson was also with her getting ready and is the Miss Pit River of the Pit River Yurok. They are both 14, and extremely bright young women with whom it was a pleasure to get to know. I also ran into Joseph Montoya of Urban Native Era who I interviewed in my last article from San Jose State University on Indigenous Students achieving greatness. (Read more here.)
(Alexis Elmore Jr. Miss Pit River) (Alexis Anderson Miss Pit River)
One of the best parts of having a powwow at a university, is all of the open minds that are walking around campus who gravitate towards the arena. Each person who walks wide eyed up to the dancers is suddenly aware that we as a people exist outside of their history books. We are here, and we are real. It was decision day at Davis, and the lawn was littered with wooden plaques and signs advertising the various clubs, groups and organizations that the UC could offer potential students, and right in the center of it all was our Powwow. It was a perfect opportunity to show the youth of our nation that our culture is alive in this country still, and we welcomed their eager minds to our arena.
I have created a private gallery online with all of the photos taken at the Davis powwow. If you are one of the dancers and would like your photo please email me and I will send you the link. All photos in my gallery are FREE, I am not selling these images for profit. Right click and save them to keep or print if you would like. This is my gift to you dancers. The website is a third party site that allows you to order prints if you want, but the digital image is yours for free.