The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition -Fall 2004-5C
Dance for unity
Pow Wow rallies Native Americans
Students volunteering to give tours of an exhibition of art by Michigan's prisoners explore the exhibit
last night ahead of its opening today. The exhibit, placed in the North Campus Media Union, is sponsored
by the Prison Creative Arts Project.
10en on North Campus
Charity group showcases more
than 340 works ofart by Michigan
March 2, 2004
By Nicole Frehsee
SDaily Staff Writer
Beginning today, pictures of animals, land-
scapes and nature scenes will line the walls of
North Campus's Media Union Gallery. Though
it sounds pastoral, this is no down-on-the-farm
art show - it is an exhibition of art created by
The show's opening at 5 p.m. kicks off two
weeks of events sponsored by the Prison Creative
Arts Project, which includes discussion panels,
guest speakers and film screenings. In its ninth
annual exhibition, the show is expected to draw a
crowd of 2,500 before its, March 16 closing.
Though the art exhibition is their largest event,
PCAP administrator Suzanne Gothard also predicts
a healthy turnout at the Michigan Theater showing
of Brad Lichtenstein's- movie "Ghosts of Attica"
and Stephen Hartnett's reading of his book "Incar-
ceration Nation" at Shaman Drum Bookstore.
Organized by Gothard and curators English Prof.
William "Buzz" Alexander and Ariella Kaufman,
the exhibition's purpose is to create a forum for
inmates to "express themselves and to get their
work out," Gothard said. "It's a big event."
"We have people lining up at the door," said
Janie Paul, who has been the show's curator for
the last eight years..Students and faculty, as well
as community members and relatives of artists,
come to see 340 works of art by 213 inmates
from various prisons around the state.
Opening night will also host speeches by four
former prison artists and an art instructor at a cor-
rectional facility. Preparation for the exhibit began
in the fall, when PCAP sent letters to Michigan's
prisons asking for artistic contributions.
Works were chosen based on the artists' origi-
nality and ability. Popular media include sketch-
es, paintings, collages and "scratch art," where a
metallic image is created by scraping off the top
layer of a black sheet of paper.
Former.contributor and inmate Jason Rios,
who created a mixed media piece for two past
shows, said the exhibition helped his personal
growth. "When you're incarcerated, you're a for-
gotten member of society. (PCAP's exhibit) put
me back in touch with humanity," said Rios, 27,
who was released from prison in 2001.
The pieces display differing degrees of expertise;
both "primitive" works and "extraordinary, gallery-
worthy pieces," are shown, Paul said.
All art is for sale, ranging in artist-determined
prices from $25 to $500, with most pieces in the $60
to $100 range. Ninety percent of the profits goes to
the artist and the other 10 percent goes toward the
The show's innovative works often surprise visi-
tors, who "expect to see limited work coming out
of a limited situation, but there's an incredibly wide
range, from very peaceful works to graphic repre-
sentations of prison life," Paul said.
Regardless of the subject matter or quality of
the art, she added each piece displays a
"tremendous emotional intensity" and serves as
an emotional "lifeline" for its creator.
March 29, 2004
By Michael Kan
Daily Staff Writer
Centuries ago, Native Americans
cleared open fields of grass to hold a pow
wow. At Saturday's Ann Arbor Dance for
Mother Earth Pow Wow, Native American
dancers continued the same tradition,
including a Grass Dance in this week-
end's event, symbolizing the clearing of
the grass so many years before.
Open fields of prairie used to stretch
across the land when the first pow wows
were held, Native American dancer
Ronny Preston said.
During the year, the prairie grass
would grow tall. Whenever the tribes liv-
ing in these lands needed a meeting
place, the elders would send out the
young men to clear the fields by stomp-
ing down the grass.
As the young men stomped on the
grass, the elders noticed how beautiful
their motions were. So the tribe made a
danceout of it now called the Grass
Dressed in traditional Native American
clothing, Preston and hundreds of Native
Americans from tribes all over North
America joined Ann Arbor residents in
this year's Pow Wow for fun and to
immerse themselves in Native American
The 32nd annual Pow Wow was held
over the course of the weekend at Crisler
Arena and was sponsored by the University.
Pow wows, dancer Jody Gaskin said,
are meant to gather the community
together, allowing them to socialize and
meet new friends. This particular Pow
Wow was also a dance and drum compe-
tition where performers were judged by
their group's routine.
But the Pow Wow also serves an equal-
ly important purpose of providing the
Native American community time to
express their long-standing traditions.
With thousands of yellow and red
beads spread across his clothing, decorat-
ing the pattern of shapes and symbols on
his garb, Preston said he made his dance
wear over the winter from the knowledge
passed down through his family.
"My mother taught me how to bead
when I was real small. I never forgot it,"
Gaskin said he learned Native Ameri-
can dance when he was five and now
teaches his children the same dances.
"I've taught my kids, and then they'll
teach their kids," he added.
Gaskin said this Pow Wow also serves
a larger purpose of bringing the Ann
Arbor community "to see what the beauty
and the variety of our own Native Ameri-
can culture has to offer.
"(The pow wow), it's a social event, but
it's also spiritual. For Native Americans,
Neil Wolfgang of the Seneca tribe of New York, dressed in traditional regalia, attends
the Pow Wow March 27, 2004 in Crisler Arena. The annual event drew more than
10,000 audience members and performers.
our spirituality goes through everything.
To be social is to be spiritual," he said.
Wearing a breastplate fashioned out of
hollowed bones, with a bustle, or gather-
ing of eagle feathers strapped around his
waist, Gaskin and others swayed their
bodies to the banging of the drums
throughout the afternoon's first dances,
rhythmically tapping Crisler Arena's floor
with their feet.
Other dances featured during the Pow
Wow ranged from traditional dancing
based on the movements of animals to
more contemporary routines called fancy
dancing, Gaskin said. Young boys and
girls also participated in the dances.
Over the years, the Pow Wow has
become increasingly popular to the Uni-
versity and the Native American commu-
nity, said George Martin, who attended
the first Pow Wow 32 years ago. Martin
was invited to be the Pow Wow's head
veteran, who is the traditional leader of
the opening ceremony.
"We had one dancer 32 years ago. Now we
have over 150. We used to have one drum-
mer, but now we have so many,"he said.
Still, even with its growing size, some
think there needs to be more acknowledg-
ment of Michigan's Native American
Education senior Erin Crain said of the
event, "I enjoy watching the dances. It's
But she added that more students
should have come to the Pow Wow. "I
would say that not many people know
this is going on. There doesn't seem to be
a large awareness of the Native American
That' why it's so important to hold cul-
tural events like the weekend's Pow Wow,
"(We want to show everyone) that,
we're here, that there are Native Ameri-
cans here," he said.
Non-Muslims join Fast-a-thon
to raise donations, awareness
November 13, 2003
Daily Staff Writer
For non-Muslim students who have
ever wondered what it's like to fast all
day in observance of Ramadan, the
Muslim Students Association is offering
a unique opportunity today.
MSA is sponsoring an all-day fasting
event for non-Muslims with the goal of
assisting a local charity in combating
hunger, as well as raising awareness of
the Islamic faith during the holy month
Dubbed Fast-a-thon, the event,
which has attracted between 200 to
300 non-Muslim students, prohibits
participants from eating, drinking all
beverages - even water - or smok-
ing anytime during daylight hours.
MSA has arranged for local business
sponsors to donate money to the Ann
Arbor Food Gatherers charity based
on the number of non-Muslims who
have pledged to fast.
Aisha Jukaku, MSA administrative
affairs chair, defined fasting in
Ramadan - one of the five pillars of
Islam - as a time for Muslims to
increase their spirituality through
hunger and to learn to be submissive
"Fasting, as well as charity, are the
basis of our religion; one of the reasons
that we fast is to gain self-control over
other aspects of our lives," said Jukaku,
an LSA sophomore.
MSA community affairs chair and
event organizer Lubna Grewal said she
feels it will give non-Muslims a unique
chance to see what it's like "to be a
Muslim for a day" during Ramadan.
This event "gives people a taste of
The concept of Fast-a-thon originated
with the University of Tennessee at
Knoxville chapter of MSA, which creat-
ed the event two years ago to raise
awareness of Ramadan around campus.
MSA National, the coordinating body
of all Muslim Student Associations in
the country, felt that this event was a
great success and sought to establish it
as a national program. Fast-a-thon is not
required by all MSA chapters, but the
University's MSA decided to implement
the program last year.
Many MSA members said they feel
this event is very important for the
"First, it's a good way to raise money
for local charity, second, (participants)
are going to be hungry so that some-
body else doesn't have to be," said
MSA member Nura Sediqe added she
thinks this event will help bring aware-
ness of fasting to non-Muslims. "It
makes fasting seem more normal and
establishes connections between Muslims
and non-Muslims that helps unify us
more" said Sedige, an LSA freshman.
All local businesses contributing to
Fast-a-thon have chosen to remain
anonymous. Grewal said this is because
many of the contributors were Muslim,
and "in Islam, we believe that some-
times it is good to participate in anony-
mous charities, where no one knows,
except for God, who contributed."
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