Navajo Elder Honored at USU Pow Wow

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown March 2nd, 2015 Last Updated on: March 2nd, 2015

Here's your feel good pow wow story of the week. The 42nd Annual Utah State University (USU) Pow Wow was held this past weekend in Logan, Utah. According to Angela Enno, a multicultural program coordinator for USU's Access and Diversity Center, it's one of the largest events the campus holds every year.

As reported by Cache Valley Daily, it's a pow wow that one Navajo woman has been attending for years.

USU alumnus Jenny Begaii has been attending the event for decades, but Saturday night had added importance for the Navajo elder. Begaii was a student at USU in the late 70s, but had to leave when her husband became sick. She had earned more than 100 credits, but was unable to graduate. That was until Saturday, when Begaii was awarded with an honorary associate of science degree.

“We really wanted to have the opportunity to honor her and honor her contribution to her own education,” Enno said.

Enno said Begaii has supported the university for years and that her children and grandchildren have also attended the school. USU Associate Vice President for Student Services Eric Olsen said Begaii has been attending the Pow Wow since before he first met her in 1982.

“She had earned quite a few credits and the family approached me and wondered if there was something she could be recognized for,” Olsen said. “We got together and looked at the credits she had earned and got approval from the provost to award her.”

In addition to receiving the honorary degree, Begaii was also honored with a blanket ceremony – a Native American tradition where elders are honored and given a blanket along with other gifts. According to Enno, two people who are particularly close to the elder being honored or who are important to the Pow Wow award the blanket.

What a special honor. I'm sure she was delighted to receive the degree!

Photo: Mitch Henline

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Navajo Elder Honored at USU Pow Wow

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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