December 19, 2001

Pow Wow Organizers Facing Lawsuit


AUTHOR: Hannah Allam
Pioneer Press

The Sweetgrass Road Drum Group drove from Canada to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul last month for a chance to show other young, Native American women that powwow drumming is no longer just a men’s tradition.

But instead of a repeat of their well-received performance in 2000, the women were asked to leave the annual campus powwow and now claim organizers offered them money to exit quietly, according to a civil complaint against the University of St. Thomas to be filed this week in Ramsey County.

The controversy highlights a divide in Indian Country. Drumming is historically a sacred art performed only by men, though a handful of female groups recently have risked ostracism to challenge convention.

The case also places the university in the middle — does the Catholic institution uphold state anti-discrimination laws or is this a religious matter better settled by American Indians? …READ FULL STORY

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