On Friday, Nov. 18, Drew Night Life, in partnership with Drew’s Racial Justice Committee and DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Programming Director, hosted a pow-wow in honor of Native American Heritage Month. The event was held in Crawford Hall and began at 8 p.m. The pow-wow featured the Red Blanket Singers, who performed traditional dances and songs that represented their Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape backgrounds. The group visits local colleges to help celebrate and offer education about Indigenous culture. “A lot of people don’t know that there are tribal communities in New Jersey,” said Alyssa Mosley, a member of the group. “It’s important to go from college to college to talk about our month, although we live this year round.”
The pow-wow began once students had arrived. Duncan Munson opened the pow-wow by performing the fast-paced and high-energy Grass Dance. Then, Aiyanna Munson, the youngest performer, presented the Women’s Traditional, a much smoother and slower style of dance. Next, Alania Herrera performed the Butterfly Dance. Herrera’s regalia featured a shawl with bright colors that created a butterfly-like appearance with her movements. Following Herrera, Alyssa Mosley performed the Jingle Dance. Her regalia, the Jingle Dress, was covered in 365 bells to represent each day of the year. The group explained that the Jingle Dance holds a special significance as a healing dance in Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape. Lastly, Duncan Munson performed the Hoop Dance. Munson is an acclaimed Hoop Dancer and has performed around the world. The dancers and musicians of the Red Blanket Singers are amazingly talented and helped provide education to end the night.
After finishing the pow-wow, the group opened up the floor to allow attendees to ask questions. The attendees asked about how families carry on traditions, how regalia is created and cared for and how people not of native descent can be allies to Indigenous Americans. The group advocated for getting involved with Native issues on social media platforms, using your digital footprint to boost native voices and continuing to educate yourself and those around you.
Following the discussion, Student Government’s Racial Justice Committee provided a presentation on land acknowledgements, followed by a Kahoot on the topic, complete with prizes from a Native-owned online business. The event illustrated the purpose of Native American Heritage Month by bringing students together to learn about, enjoy and better understand the beauty of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape culture. After all, according to Mosley, “The best thing we can do is educate” ourselves in order to ensure that Native culture is not overlooked, and that Native narratives can continue to be celebrated on campus.
Featured image of Duncan Munson dances the Hoop Dance at the DNL pow-wow courtesy of Jocelyn Freeman
Jocelyn Freeman is a sophomore majoring in History, English and Chinese