Starting today and moving through April 8, students, faculty and community members will have the opportunity to explore the traditions, beliefs and customs of Native Americans in the Davis community.
The Native American Student Union (NASU) has collaborated with American Indian Recruitment and Retention (AIRR) and the Cross Cultural Center (CCC) to host this year’s Native American Cultural Days (NACD).
“The CCC is a great place for our students to voice and express their cultures’ practices and beliefs. Students get a sense of solidarity and can feel their cultures’ presence alive and thriving,” said Melissa Johnson, the cultural programs coordinator and advisor at the CCC.
The CCC provides a facet for cultural awareness, striving for social justice and cultural appreciation.
“The Davis community has tremendous room for growth when it comes to cultural awareness,” Johnson said. “Collectively and individually, some students are well aware and others uninformed of the different cultures that their university encompasses. This week’s events are designed to expand that growth and knowledge.”
The goal of the events is to build a cross-cultural bond and strengthen the intercultural bond that Davis has created.
The NACD will provide a large range of events from cultural practices to artist lectures, workshops and a continuing film festival throughout the week.
“It’s really important that individuals be given the opportunity to celebrate their culture. As a Native American and active participant, these days/events help to strengthen my bond with my heritage and the community I have built in Davis,” said Marissa Saenz, a sophomore animal science major and Native American community intern at the CCC.
On Saturday, the NASU hosted its 39th annual Powwow celebration, a live and interactive Native American cultural event.
This year’s theme, “Rooted in Sovereignty, Soaring through Education,” was a pre-celebration to this week’s cultural days.
The Powwow is intended to perpetuate the Native American culture, said Tom Phillips, the master of ceremonies of this year’s celebration.
“As an oral and visual culture we learn through observation. The performances help us to educate and celebrate our dedication and commitment to our way of life,” Phillips said.
The Powwow was sponsored by the donation of the Yocha Dehe Witun Nation and was the product of NASU and an 11-member committee who began planning back in September.
“Before 1978, Native Americans were not granted religious freedom or expression. Today the Powwow, along with our cultural days, provides our community with the opportunity to celebrate and express the freedom that we have fought for. With dance, music, live performance and vendors, we can truly honor the progress our community has made and share it with others,” said Akale Brown, junior Native American studies major and Powwow coordinator, at Saturday’s event.
The celebration of Native American culture will continue throughout the week with the different events.
“These cultural days are so important to our community – we learn so much from not only watching and hearing, but experiencing. I really encourage those who are both aware and unaware of the Native American community to come out and visit our events,” said Johnson.
For more information on the CCC and the NACD events visit http://ccc.ucdavis.edu/culture_weeks/nacd.html
RACHEL LEVY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.