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BSU Council of Indian Students celebrates 50 years with round dance event

In celebration of 50 years of events, Bemidji State’s Council of Indian Students hosted a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, in the BSU Gymnasium.

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The Caldwells, a father-son drum group, plays during the three-man drum group competition at a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — In celebration of 50 years of events, Bemidji State’s Council of Indian Students hosted a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, in the BSU Gymnasium.

“We’re here tonight celebrating 50 years of events as a Council of Indian Students,” Asin explained, who has been council president since 2020. “Usually we have an annual powwow but this year, still coming out of COVID, we decided to do a round dance event instead just to pull it back a little so there are not quite so many people.”

After being unable to hold an annual event the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers were excited to be able to get back into the swing of things.

“We have been anxious the last two years to have this event,” Asin said in reference to the pandemic hold-up. “So it’s been a long time coming and it’s turned out pretty well.”

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A dancer makes her way around the circle during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

She explained that a round dance is a slower beat dance, which primarily comes from Canada and is traditionally done more in the winter as part of a ceremony.

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In addition to round dances, the event saw several sidestep competitions for both men and women to participate in with prizes of $300, $200 and $100 for the first, second and third-place winners in each category.

In the women’s sidestep, Leah Monroe took first place, with Selena Jourdain in second and Ah-Nung Matrious in third.

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Finalists in the women’s sidestep dance competition line up as the places are determined during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium. From left: Selena Jourdain placed second, Ah-Nung Matrious placed third and Leah Monroe earned first place.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

In the men’s sidestep, Jerritte Caldwell Jr. placed first, with James Cloud in second and Trey Flowers coming in third place.

A handful of three-man drum groups also faced off to claim a spot in the top three for their chance to earn the first-place prize of $1,200 with second place receiving $900 and $600 for third place.

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Singers play during the men’s sidestep competition during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Trey Flowers participates in the men’s sidestep competition during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“This is actually the largest Native American recruitment event that BSU has,” Asin explained. “So there are a lot of people here who haven’t previously attended college. So we hope that just being on a college campus will inspire people to try it out for themselves.”

In reference to the children running around the gym and taking part in the dances, Asin added how important it is for children to be exposed to the college scene from an early age.

“I feel like the path to higher education starts young,” she said, “so getting kids into these spaces early is definitely a goal and it’s working out pretty well because then kids see all this stuff and think ‘Wow, I want to come here more.’”

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Dancers make their way around the circle during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Asin explained that in addition to being a recruitment event for those around the area, BSU students were also invited to attend the event and encouraged to scan their student IDs at the door to earn Beaver Points.

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Staff members from the university’s American Indian Resource Center staff were also on hand to help the students keep things organized and moving along.

After an afternoon of dancing and singing, Chubbys Original Food Stand provided a free dinner feast of fry bread tacos for event-goers and participants.

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Frybread tacos are served by Chubbys Original Food Stand during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Canada-based Anishinaabe Bimishimo offers attendees a variety of jingles for jingle dresses and other apparel during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Several vendors were set up in the gym hallway selling refreshments, snacks and apparel with Canada-based Anishinaabe Bimishimo offering attendees a variety of jingles for jingle dresses.

“If you’re in the area, definitely come out and support the American Indian Resource Center and Council of Indian Students,” Asin said. “We do a lot of activities throughout the year, we do a lot of outreach activities with the Native American community especially.”

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Dancers make their way around the circle during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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A dancer makes her way around the circle during a round dance event on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Annalise is the editor and a photographer at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a Mass Communication graduate from Bemidji State University. Her favorite pastime is exploring the great outdoors and capturing its natural beauty on camera. Contact Annalise at (218) 333-9796, (218) 358-1990 or abraught@bemidjipioneer.com.
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