52nd Spring Powwow

Executive Summary:

First Nations is hosting the 52nd Annual UW Spring Powwow at Hec Edmundson Pavilion during April 8th and 9th. The event is open to Native Americans, University students and faculty, the general public, and many local vendors who are invited to promote their cultural designs and creations. The event will also host performers, both singers and dancers, from across the Pacific Northwest, United States, and Canada. Although Native American tribes differ from one another, powwows are a tradition all hold due to their shared experience of oppression. When the US government began forcing tribes onto reservations, many tribes had to reconcile their displacement and sharing confined land with rival tribes. Powwows came out of this tense period as a way for different tribes to gather, build relationships, and share each other's culture. Today's powwows serve the same purpose, to gather Native Americans from any tribe and celebrate our cultures together. We welcome non-Indigenous individuals to attend and learn about our culture and traditions. First Nations also aims to encourage Native youth to pursue a post-secondary education by creating a space on campus that is accessible to our Indigenous communities for cultural celebration. Native students only make up 1% of US college students, often leaving our community's needs unmet. According to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, "24% of 18–24 year-old Native American students are enrolled in college compared to 41% of the overall U.S. population." In order to help our communities gain financial stability and combat public health crises, we need to support Indigenous students and encourage them to pursue higher education. We estimate the total cost at $68,950.00, the majority of which goes to affording the facility rental of Hec Edmundson Pavilion. First Nations is primarily supported by the Student Activities Office and Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center.




Student Involvement:

The Spring Powwow is fully planned and organized by students in First Nations at UW, with advising from Christina Coop, our SAO advisor, and staff at the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center. Beginning in January,  the powwow committee, comprised of First Nations officers and members, meets weekly on Friday at 1:30pm to plan the powwow and delegate tasks.

Some of our officer positions are created around the annual powwow. The Powwow Chair is elected every year and responsible for organizing the Powwow Committee. The Fundraising Chair is responsible for grant writing and raising funds specifically for the powwow. All other officer positions are also heavily involved in the execution and promotion of the event, since this is the largest and most looked forward to event organized by First Nations. 

In addition to officer roles, the powwow creates dozens of volunteer opportunities. It is a large event with roughly 4,000 attendees throughout the weekend. We require volunteers for many roles, including: vendor loading/unloading; concessions; cooking; set-up; mic-running; and more. For the duration of the weekend, roughly 50 volunteers are necessary since the event runs from 11am - 7pm and volunteers are needed for set-up and cooking beginning at 9am each day. First Nations usually fulfills this demand for volunteers through First Nations members, students taking AIS 379 (Powwow: Tradition and Innovation), and students involved with the Multicultural Greek Council. 

Education & Outreach:

Our powwow is promoted through multiple avenues, largely propelled by the Native community. We begin with updating our website, which is currently counting down the days to powwow, then post our official event flyer on all First Nations social media accounts. Because First Nations is lucky to have a strong community, our links and flyer are shared by many other UW RSOs, departments, and individuals in and outside of the UW community. First Nations' powwow has a reputation among Indigenous communities in Washington and the surrounding states, so Native organizations such as Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center promote our event through their channels without compensation. Our concentrated promoting efforts go towards designing the powwow flyer and distributing it around strategic spots on campus. We typically print 300 flyers for this campaign. First Nations is also interested in finding new methods of advertising on campus, such as virtual advertisements on various monitors throughout the Seattle campus. 

Environmental Impact:
  • Community Development
  • Cultural Representation
Project Longevity:

The planning for powwow begins every October, soon after the academic year begins. The Fundraising Chair begins researching and applying for grants, the bulk of which are due in the month of December. Other officers are also involved, discussing strategic activities to host that will set powwow up for success, such as having a fry bread workshop. Most Natives love fry bread, so teaching our members how to make it is beneficial to them and also prepares potential volunteers on how to make fry bread for powwow. These are the types of activities that occur throughout the year at First Nations. January to April is when specific preparations are made for powwow organizing. The Powwow Committee begins meeting at the start of winter quarter every week for planning, decision-making, and delegating tasks. We have worked with the ECC and Christina Coop for well over a decade on powwow advising, planning, and fundraising. They were major contributors in helping powwow return last year after a three-year hiatus due to Covid-19. Many students did not know what powwow looked like or entailed, so these advisors guided the RSO through the process. 

First Nations funds this event through many channels. We receive major support through OMA&D and the ECC to afford the facility rental of Hec Edmundson Pavilion. This expense is over half of our budget and the OMA&D commits $30,000 alone to help the Spring Powwow take place. Aside from this major source of funding, First Nations has a Fundraising Chair dedicated to grant writing throughout the year in preparation of the event. This year, we are in the process of soliciting the Tulalip, Cowlitz, Spokane, Stillaguamish, and Puyallup tribes through their charitable foundation applications.

Environmental Problem:

As stated in the executive summary, only 24% of Native students between the ages of 18–24 are enrolled in college compared to 41% of the overall U.S. population, according to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute. Despite this shockingly low enrollment rate, Indigenous Americans only make up 1% of college students in the US, so our needs are frequently disregarded. There are multiple factors which contribute to this phenomenon, many stemming from high poverty rates among Native populations. One avenue Indigenous People can take to help improve their communities is by going into higher education and returning to their communities, or advocating for Indigenous needs in their respective fields. The First Nations RSO was formed in 1989 to promote American Indian and Alaskan Native culture through events such as the annual UW Spring Powwow; to advocate for Native students’ interests, needs, and welfare; to supplement and complement the formal education of Native students at UW; to implement the American Indian Retention and Recruitment (A.I.R.R.) Program; and to provide the physical and sound environment in which to achieve the above objectives. Our intent with the Spring Powwow is to encourage Native youth to pursue a post-secondary education by creating a space on campus that is accessible to our Indigenous communities for cultural celebration. When Native youth visit and see themselves represented by Native students proudly sharing their identity and culture on campus, they begin to realize they too are capable of pursuing higher education and in fact their presence is celebrated. The powwow is also a great opportunity for the UW community and general public to learn about Indigenous cultures and traditions. We hope students, faculty, and members of surrounding communities will accept our warm invitation to celebrate a wholesome, educational experience.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

We measure the success of powwow though number of attendees, number of volunteers, number of vendors, amount raised from vendor fees, concession sales, and qualitative feedback from performers, volunteers, vendors, and attendees. Keeping track of the number of volunteers and vendors is simple as we can tally volunteer sign-ups and vendor RSVPs. We will be able to measure the financial success of the event through the sum of concession sales less supplies expense, as well as the total of vendor fees collected. However, we have not historically measured overall attendance of powwow simply because the event is large, free to the public, and occurs over multiple days. Requiring attendees to RSVP or purchase a ticket is not in First Nations' interest as we do not want to deter anyone from attending. This year, we are in the process of designing a method to measure attendance and will implement it at powwow. After the event, we will evaluate whether this system is accurate, feasible, and reliable. 

Total amount requested from the CSF: $10,000
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


52nd Powwow
2022-2023 Budget
Principal Event ItemsCost
Facility Rental$42,120.00
Security- 3 UWPD Offc (19 hr @ 95/hr)$2,257.00
Volunteer staff/security expenses
30 radios for security and committee$990.00
Meals and green room supplies for security/volunteers$600.00
Parking permits/gas reimb for security$150.00
ID materials for secuirty and committee$200.00
Printing for 250 posters$300.00
1 Host Drums ($3000 ea)$6,000.00
MC, Arena Director, Head Dancers$3,300.00
Lodgings for head staff$3,200.00
Remaining Event Costs
Frybread Tent Equpiment Rental (Cort Party Rental)$1,328.00
Motor pool'- pickup and drop off equipment$200.00
Office expenses (Stationary, postage)$400.00
Concession stand/Elder Dinner$4,000.00
Misc. honoraria'- honor songs, opening prayer, mic holders$150.00
Drum day pay (100/sessn x 3 sessns x first 10 drums)$3,000.00
Total Expenses$68,950.00
Total Expenses w/o Facility Rental$26,830

Non-CSF Sources:

Sources and amounts of funding First Nations is currently in the process of soliciting.
Foster DEIDonation in Kind, Head Staff Lodging
Foster UDS200
GPSS Special Appropriations750
GPSS Diversity Fund500
Student Diversity Event Fund999
ASUW Special Appropriations2000
UWAA Fund500
Project Completion Total: $68,950


Tasks First Nations needs to complete for Powwow to operate, weighted from 1-7 where 1 is the highest priority.
TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Finalize Head Staff1 month2/20/23
Hire Drummers1 month2/27/23
Hire Security2 weeks2/27/23
Purchase insurance1 day3/01/23
Competition Dancer Registration1 month03/31/23
Rent Fryers for Fry Bread1 week3/15/23
Purchase concessions supplies2 weeks4/05/23
Print Promotional Posters1 week3/15/23
Vendor Space Taping1 day4/7/23