Powwow 101: A Brief History

In 1970, Native students at Stanford came together to begin bringing awareness about the Stanford Indian mascot. The mascot had been represented by a “Prince Lightfoot”, who would perform mock-Native dances during routines and at sports games. As a way to begin positively representing Native American culture, these Native students decided to host a Powwow Mother’s Day Weekend, 1971. Shortly thereafter, the students officially came together as a group–the “Stanford American Indian Organization” was born. After that year’s Powwow, and tons of hard work from these Native student trailblazers, the Stanford Indian mascot was eliminated by the Stanford University President.

Stanford Powwow

Since then, the Stanford Powwow has grown at an incredible rate and now dominates the Stanford campus during Mother’s Day Weekend each year. Now a drug and alcohol free event, the Stanford Powwow welcomes a variety of both Natives and non-Natives, and helps to exhibit Native American culture to thousands in the bay area. With an estimated 30,000+ individuals attending Powwow each year, the event is measured as the largest student-run Powwow in the Country and the 6th largest Powwow overall. The Stanford Powwow is also unofficially measured as the 6th largest event hosted at Stanford, after: Graduation, Homecoming, Admit Weekend, New Student Orientation, and Parents’ weekend.

Image courtesy of Stanford SALLIE database

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