Native American Tribes Compete at CMU’s 30th Annual Celebrating Life Pow Wow

“Like the students at CMU here, they come and they get a first chance look at really who we are.”

Bright colors, thundering drums and lots of dance took over Central Michigan University Sunday.

Students and community members had an opportunity to soak in Native American culture.

It was the 30th Annual Celebrating Life Pow wow.

The pow wow brought in tribes from all over the country and Canada, with more than 100 people competing.

“It’s a place for all families. It reminds us of who we are as human beings,” said Reggie Pettivone from the Ho-Chunk tribe.

Central Michigan University, the home of the Chippewas, welcomed Native American tribes from all over the U.S. and Canada.

“So we have all these people coming from all over the surrounding area and other counties even and Canada to come have a good time dance sing hang out with family or friends,” Hannah Bartol, organizer and CMU senior said.

Young children and adults competed in traditional Native American dances and drumming, but to the organizers and participants, it’s not just about dancing.

“We want to showcase the CMU Chippewa heritage just behind the name; we want people to know the background behind it and educate people about it,” Bartol said.

One woman made the trip from Grand Rapids to soak in the culture solo.

“I love learning about different cultures and native peoples’ heritage they bring to our state and the country so I wanted to come celebrate that,” says Lexie Bryce, who lives in Grand Rapids.

Reggie Pettivone spends many weekends performing all over the country each year.

He says the opportunity to show audience members his true self is what motivates him.

“We were never savages or beasts that’s all Hollywood. The drum is used as you hear it to unite everyone,” he said.

And he says he hopes people take away the lesson of equality and  being open minded

“Ignorance is the worst thing around and that causes a lot of problems. We all have to be in the same plain, not greed but all equal. We don’t believe in a pyramid we believe in equality,” he said.