Pacific Hosts Annual Labor Day Stockton Community Pow Wow
The 35th Annual Stockton Labor Day Community Pow Wow concluded on Sunday after three days of festivities and celebration at the Wendell Phillips Center lawn at the University of the Pacific. Vendors, dancers, and drummers gathered to recognize their heritage and the continued presence of Native Americans in the San Joaquin area.
This event is still a celebration even in its second year without one of its founders. Caroline Wilson was known for her involvement in the Stockton community and regularly volunteered with helping Native American children. She passed in February 2015. Her family, including son Dave Wilson, a Stockton Community Pow Wow Committee member, has been involved with the pow wow all his life.
As a Lakota and Southern Ute, Wilson continues his mother’s legacy and shares his heritage openly today. Wilson says, “I hope to share our knowledge and culture with students and the community. Reading someone’s history in the books is not the full story. We also want people to understand that we are still here. We are so thankful to have the support of the Pacific students, and for allowing us to continue to honor our mother.” Wilson also proposed to his wife at the first Pow Wow hosted at Pacific.
Pacific’s involvement in the Stockton Community Pow Wow comes from Latinx Outreach Coordinator and Pacific Alum Dr. Ines Ruiz-Huston. Dr. Ruiz-Huston remarked, “It takes six months to prepare to host this event. We are so happy to be able to share this on the Labor Day weekend. The community loves this event, and students have a greater chance to see it. There is native history, art, dance, jewelry and clothing. We have community members camping under the Redwoods! All of this helps our collegiate community preserve and show that Native Americans are alive and well in the community.” Dr. Ruiz-Huston has been working with the event coordinators since 2003.
Shane Nu’uhiwa, ’17 majoring in Political Science, has been attending the Stockton Community Pow Wow for three years now. As the Assistant Resident Director at Casa Jackson, Nu’uhiwa says, “This is a chance for RA’s to incorporate students into the event. It identifies cultural appropriation as different from cultural appreciation. We heard several students mentioning an interest in buying a dream catcher, but not understanding the purpose or history behind the somewhat common item. By talking to people and seeing the culture, they begin to understand more than just the decoration.”
The namesake of the WPC, Wendell Phillips, was most notably an abolitionist who also actively fought to gain ground for Native American rights through the Reformation Amendments; specifically the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. None would argue this seems a fitting site from which to host this event. As many may have missed in the textbooks, all three Amendments became law between 1865 and 1870. Native Americans were not given citizenship until June 2, 1924.
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