American Indian tribes kick off celebration on Mall to share individual customs, rituals

By Heather Urquides
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 30, 1996

Not all American Indian tribes are identical; each is unique, with its own set of rituals, dances and customs.

That is one of the most important messages the organizers of the Seventh American Indian Celebration hope to send to University of Arizona students and staff over the next couple of days.

The scheduled events start today at noon with the Yaqui Deer Dance group on the UA Mall and ends Friday with a Pow-Wow on the Mall.

"A lot of students think stereotypically about American Indians, that they are this way or that way," said Antoinette Davis, family studies junior.

The celebration is a good medium to get people to realize that each tribe is unique, and give the students a chance to see some of the different practices of each tribe, she said. It will also increase the awareness of American Indians as a minority on campus, said Davis, who is a member of Tribal People United, a student organization.

The main objective of the group is to educate and expose UA students to the different American Indian cultures and practices. The 25-member organization is also responsible for hosting the Wildcat Pow-Wow that is held every spring.

Davis said if students just come away with the knowledge that there are different Indian tribes and what some of the differences are, it would help make the celebration a success.

Students will be exposed to the food, dances, arts and crafts of different American Indian tribes, said Alex Mendez, Native American Resource Center academic intervention specialist.

The celebration is actually a campus precursor to an even bigger celebration that begins Saturday, American Indian Day, at the Tucson Convention Center, he said.

Mendez said American Indian Day is a national celebration of American Indian cultures.

"It's going to be a whole week of celebrations," he said," both on campus and off campus."

The celebration will not just educate others about American Indians but will expose American Indians to other tribes' dances and customs they may not have had a chance to see before.

Sharalynn Tsosie, pre-education sophomore, said she is looking forward to seeing the Yaqui Deer Dance group.

Tsosie will also help pass out fliers and alert students about the week's activities.

"It's nice that we were given this week so we can educate those who aren't aware of American Indian cultures," she said. "But it will also help educate Native Americans about themselves."

American Indian Celebration events