By Elizabeth Hale
Members of several Southern Plains Native American tribes along with Texas Tech students and faculty celebrated Native American culture Thursday at the Student Union Building.
The event, to be followed by others, was meant to show current Native American students that their heritage is appreciated and also serve to extend a warm welcome to prospective Native American students, said Michael P. Jordan, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology who has worked with the tribes visiting Tech in his research on the indigenous peoples of North America.
“We would like to increase recruiting in Native American communities so this, in our opinion, is kind of a first step towards letting Native American students know this is a campus that affirms their culture and welcomes them,” Jordan said.
Ruben Lopez, the unit coordinator for the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center, said bringing awareness of other cultures to current students is an important goal.
“We want to help our current students experience some of these different cultural events they may not be accustomed to,” Lopez said. “ Their performances are so awesome and different, and we want to expose our student body to that.”
Phil “Joe Fish” DuPoint, a member of the Kiowa tribe in Oklahoma, said he enjoys helping others learn about his tribe’s way of life and heritage.
“Even though we all live in the same country, we as Native American’s really have our own culture,” DuPoint said.
During Pow Wow season, he and other members of his tribe travel around the country performing traditional songs and dances at different events. Events vary from festivals to competitions, where contestants can win cash prizes.
“A person can make a living off of this from dancing and singing in competitions,” DuPoint said. “And sometimes, different Pow Wow communities will ask you to come and serve in different capacities as well.”
Although the tribe resides in Oklahoma, DuPoint said his ancestors have some local history.
“Now I’ve been trying to not say anything, but I have to tell you, the tribe used to raid down here in Lubbock,” DuPoint said.
Performing the traditional song and dance of his tribe strengthens his connection to the land and to the past.
“My ancestors are buried here,” he said. “I feel very close to them. I feel very close to my heritage. And really, that’s something I’m very proud of.”