After taking a hiatus from the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, The Annual CSULB Pow Wow is finally making its return this spring semester.
American Indian Studies Director Craig Stone discussed the impact and hardships of COVID-19 on the American Indian community.
“When an elder dies, it’s like losing a library,” said Stone. “The life expectancy for American Indians dropped to 65 years of age.”
The impact of COVID-19 heavily affected the American Indian community, as with many other disenfranchised communities. American Indians in the Los Angeles County area had the help of Patricia Lopez and Dr. Norma Blackwater of United Native American Indian Involvement, commonly referred as the UAII, to outreach and administer vaccinations.
Stone says the legacy created through the American Indian Student Council and American Indian counselors formed a lasting support system to this day, through which Native American Indian values have survived and helped the community.
CSULB’s Pow Wow is historically the oldest Pow Wow in the Los Angeles-Orange County area and the CSU system as said by Stone. CSULB is historically built upon the Native lands known as Puvungna, a sacred site for American Indians local to the Los Angeles-Orange County area.
Puvungna once housed an American Indian village and American Indian burial sites, but were swiftly disrupted through multiple development projects for portions of the Cal State Long Beach campus.
The CSULB Pow Wow remains as a significant celebration of life for the local Tongva community and other Indian Americans in Southern California, as well as for non-Indian American community members.
Stone expresses the significance of the 50 year anniversary and its three long years of planning and development, despite hardships.
“We’re one of the last Pow Wows to come back now,” said Stone. “The second weekend in March has been our weekend for a long time.”
Incoming president of the American Indian Student Council Eleanor Nelson is excited and anticipated for this year’s return of the CSULB Pow Wow.
“I can’t wait to see my community again, I can’t wait to see other people who aren’t even American Indian to experience our culture,” said Nelson.
“It’s really huge in understanding our culture, our people and our necessities in our community.”
The American Indian Student Council will be hosting and co-sponsoring the 50 year anniversary celebration of the CSULB Pow Wow. The American Indian social celebration is slated for March 11 and 12. It’s set to take place on the upper campus quad.