We made a family in the middle of a place that was, for many of us, startling.
Joy Harjo, MFA ’78
Iowa City Press-Citizen, 7/1/01
The University of Iowa Powwow was founded in 1990. Before it was established, the Chicano Indian American Student Union held smaller gatherings where Native American dance was one of many symposium topics. In the fall of 1989, the Native American Student Association (NASA) (formally American Indian Student Association (AISA))was founded by Orrenzo Snyder (Dine’), Larry Lasley (Meskwaki), Alex Walker (Meskwaki), Judy Morrison (Osage), and Stephanie Griffith (Lakota), all whom are now alumni of the University of Iowa. NASA’s vision to host a Powwow at the UI would eventually become a tradition and an opportunity to reach out to students and their families. It was held every spring to symbolize rejuvenation for Native American students and Powwow participants. The very first Powwow at the UI was held in 1990 during the second weekend of April at the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center in downtown Iowa City. The last few years of the Powwow have been host to more than 350 dancers, 18 drum groups, and 60 arts and craft vendors. The powwow exuberantly convey the rich traditions and diverse cultures of the Native American community in North America.