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UNM’s Native American organization hosting annual powwow celebration

The University of New Mexico’s Kiva Club has been holding their annual Nizhoni Days since 1955. The week-long set of events includes a prayer run, Indigenous-centered discussions, and a powwow.

Kiva Club’s communications chair, Lea Aguino from Santa Clara Pueblo, said they’re celebrating their 69th year and that at its inception, this event came out of necessity and demand for Native students.

“Realizing that there's not that much space at an institutional level for Native voices, for Native representation, for Native students," she said.

"Realizing that past Kiva Club students didn’t have the space to celebrate, dances or celebrate just Indigeneity as a whole with food, music, drumming."

This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Mothers,” and Aguino said mothers are the backbone of our lifeways.

“We're specifically focused on just uplifting the woman and the feminine in our communities.”

The free powwow event is organized entirely by Native American students who volunteer their time. Aguino said that can be challenging at times.

“It's a lot of work from members, students. We're still trying to get through school, but we're all coming together to plan in advance for so many different things that are required from us,” she said.

But at the end of the day Aguino said the purpose of the powwow is for Native and Non-Native communities to come together.

“Kiva Club built this time, built this space,” she said. “So the community can come out and just enjoy themselves. It's very, it's colorful, it's loud. It's beautiful. It's unique.”

The Nizhoni Powwow will be this Sunday on April 28th and will begin at noon at Johnson field at UNM.

Support for this coverage comes from the Thornburg Foundation.

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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