Date April 28, 2022
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Photos: Drumming, dancing and revelry at the 19th annual Spring Thaw Powwow

The student-organized event celebrated the arrival of a new season with music, dancing, food, Native American art and workmanship, games and more.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Indigenous traditions from across the globe took center stage at the 19th annual Spring Thaw Powwow at Brown in late April.

The event — organized each year by the Brown Center for Students of Color's Native American Heritage Series, with support from the student organization Natives at Brown and several University departments and centers — celebrates the arrival of a new season with dancing, food, Native American art and workmanship, games and more. The first in-person gathering since 2019 drew hundreds from the Brown and local communities, both Native and Indigenous and otherwise; attendees spanned several home states and generations.

This year’s student organizers were senior Raelee Fourkiller, who identifies as Cherokee, and junior Ashlyn Lovato, a member of Santa Clara Pueblo. In an email to the Brown Daily Herald, Fourkiller said the powwow presented an opportunity not only for Native and Indigenous groups to bond over shared experiences but also for non-Indigenous Brown students to gather new insights into Indigenous life.

“Native students on campus are always in this delicate and precisely configured situation,” Fourkiller wrote. “We’re hyper-invisible — meaning, people know we’re here, but what do we actually do and how do we feel?”

The family-friendly affair featured coloring and treat handouts for children, drumming and dancing, food from a variety of Indigenous traditions, and the chance to browse handmade clothing, jewelry and art.

As is tradition, the Spring Thaw Powwow coincided with A Day on College Hill, when recently admitted students have a chance to visit Brown and experience a taste of campus life. The last of three ADOCH events took place one day before — giving some admitted Indigenous students the opportunity to attend the powwow the next day and connect with members of Brown’s Indigenous community.