For more than 25 years, Osseo Area Schools has put on one of the largest education-based powwows in the state. With more than 500 Native American students and 90 tribes represented, the powwow brings more than 1,000 people together for a celebration of culture and history.
“Passing things down and sharing knowledge is central to the powwow,” said the Master of Ceremonies as he invited dancers to the circle. Individuals moved around the circle, symbolizing the world and its never-ending fluidity.
Leading up to the powwow, students spent time with their families and community members connecting with their culture. Students worked with their parents to prepare regalia, which is significant clothing, and some students learned how to drum at weekly drum circles with their elders.
Ethan Neerdaels, coordinator of Indian education, seeks to build spaces for students to connect with their culture. In his nine years with Osseo Area Schools, he has worked on building a robust network and classes for students to engage in Dakota and Ojibwe languages and history at all sites.
“Our goal is for Native students to see themselves in schools and in the curriculum, and really for them to overcome the historic and ongoing genocide that is going on in our community,” Neerdaels said.
In the future, Neerdaels hopes to continue making the powwow more culturally relevant, and invites all Osseo Area Schools staff and community members to take part in the powwow.