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Heritage University kicks off new semester with annual Powwow

TOPPENISH, Wash. - Heritage University welcomed the community to its 2nd Annual All Nations Student Pow wow on Saturday to celebrate the beginning of a new school semester.

The annual celebration of native culture started at 10 a.m. in Toppenish and was free for the public. There were fun family activities and local food vendors that also attended the event.

Traditionally the grand entry dance spectacle takes place early on during the event. The dance is meant to welcome everyone who attends the annual Pow wow. People from all walks of life and ages were also able to participate in the dance and drum competitions.

Elvis Sampon of the Yakima Nez Perce tribe is just one of many different tribe members who showed up draped in traditional colorful attire to the Powwow. Sampon danced in the outfit his mother and aunt spent over a year putting together for him, and he said each year he reps the same design. Sampon also said the event was a very uplifting experience, "It feels good to be here, the small Powwows are always fun, they are a good energy."

Two songs were played during the competitions, the top dancers in each category were given prizes. Aliya Wahchumwah, who is part of the Yakima Crowd Creek tribe has been participating in Powwows since she was 6-years-old. “It’s important for people not to forget our culture,” said Wahchumwah. She also said one of her favorite things about dancing at the All Nations Student Powwow is seeing her mom happy.

Andrew Sund, President of Heritage University said it was a team effort to put on the event. “Seeing the time that the students have put together and the dedication that they have is amazing, it really shows the structure that the students have,” Sund said.

The Powwow finished off with a dinner that everyone was able to enjoy together, and will take place again next year.

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