The University of Iowa Powwow was founded in 1990.

Before it was established, the Chicano Indian American Student Union (CIASU) held smaller gatherings where Native American dance was one of many symposium topics. In the fall of 1989 the American Indian Student Association (AISA) was founded by Orrenzo Snyder (Diné), Larry Lasley (Meskwaki), Alex Walker (Meskwaki), Judy Morrison (Osage), and Stephanie Griffith (Dakota), all whom are now alumni of the U of Iowa. A separation from the Chicano Indian American Student Union (CIASU) was necessary to form a student group to better serve the needs of the Native American students on campus. In Fall 2013 students decided to change the name to Native American Student Association (NASA) to better fit with the changing of times.

AISA’s vision to host a powwow at the U of Iowa would eventually become a tradition and opportunity to promote outreach to students and the community. It was a time when AISA was able to share their culture with the U of Iowa and Iowa City community. The event is held every spring to symbolize rejuvenation and renewal. The very first powwow at the U of Iowa was held in 1990 during the second weekend of April at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center in Iowa City. The powwow was sponsored with donations from Pepsi, local businesses, and university support. The first powwow had about 400 people in attendance, which included 4 drum groups, 30 dancers and 3 arts and crafts vendors. The powwow was very successful and began to grow; what started as a one-day event grew into a three-day event with a wider range of dance categories, singers and vendors. The last few years of the powwow have been host to more than 350 dancers, 18 drum groups, and 60 arts and craft vendors. The budget of the powwow had also grown tremendously; in 1990 the budget was $3,000 and in 2004, close to $90,000.

The gradual growth of the powwow, while an amazing opportunity for the students, proved to be an overwhelming task for the organization. In 2004, the 15th annual powwow left AISA in debt. And, with the decline in the Native student population due to graduation and the lack of retention, AISA chose not to continue with the event in 2005. Over the next ten years, there were only five powwows held in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013. The annual event was canceled in 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2014. The following year, with the support of alumni, staff and faculty, NASA members worked hard to bring back the annual event. Although, a smaller event than past years, NASA is still able to exuberantly convey the rich tradition of song and dance while building broader relationships with the community and university.

    Timeline

    • 2022 - 26th Annual
    • 2021 - Honoring Powwow Livestream
    • 2019 - 25th Annual
    • 2018 - 24th Annual
    • 2017 - 23rd Annual
    • 2016 - 22nd Annual
    • 2015 - 21st Annual
    • 2013 - 20th Annual
    • 2011 - 19th Annual
    • 2010 - 18th Annual
    • 2009 - 17th Annual
    • 2006 - 16th Annual
    • 2004 - 15th Annual
    • 2003 - 14th Annual
    • 2002 - 13th Annual
    • 2001 - 12th Annual
    • 2000 - 11th Annual
    • 1999 - 10th Annual
    • 1998 - 9th Annual
    • 1997 - 8th Annual
    • 1996 - 7th Annual
    • 1995 - 6th Annual
    • 1994 - 5th Annual
    • 1993 - 4th Annual
    • 1992 - 3rd Annual
    • 1991 - 2nd Annual
    • 1990 - FIRST UI POWWOW