Austin/ Arts & Culture
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 15, 2024
UT's Native American Indigenous Collective Holds Cultural Powwow in Austin, Challenging SB 17Source: Unsplash/Andrew James

In the face of adversity, UT's Native American Indigenous Collective is hosting a cultural powwow off campus after being denied funding and support due to Texas' SB 17. As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, the event is an emphatic rebuff to the recent legislation barring diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. It showcases the resilience of the students, who have had to dig deep without the backing of their university. Raven Price-Smith, co-director of the collective, has said, "Honestly, we’re even stronger" as per Austin American Statesman.

According to the Austin American Statesman, Kennedy Cortez, another co-director of the collective and a senior at UT, expressed dismay at the university's withdrawal of support, an action forced upon it by the legal reality of SB 17. Cortez highlighted the sheer effort it takes to organize such an event amid academic responsibilities, noting that the experience in a system that no longer officially supports them can be "traumatizing, honestly." Cortez's and her group's act of resistance is buoyed by the support they've received from the community, which has been essential in bringing the powwow to fruition.

Resolute in their stance against SB 17, the collective has turned to GoFundMe to raise the necessary funds to keep their organization afloat, as per the American-Statesman, the platform had already garnered over $3,200 of their $8,000 goal at the time of reporting indicating a wave of support for the NAIC in their struggle to persist and make their voices heard. The powwow, free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, is an invitation, especially to students to learn about Indigenous cultures and the impacts of the controversial Senate bill on diversity-focused organizations.

As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, Xochimilo Murguia Vazquez, NAIC’s community engagement officer, spoke of the profound personal meaning of the powwow and its larger significance as "an act of resistance." Murguia Vazquez, who has indigenous roots in the Nahua and Purépecha tribes and had never attended a powwow before joining the collective, emphasizes that events like these are a celebration of cultural persistence and showcase the community's rights to live and uphold their rich and enduring traditions.