Powwow: This year's powwow has been canceled.
Hozhoni Ambassador Pageant: The pageant has been postponed. We will have more details coming soon.
The Hozhoni Days, or "Days of Beauty," is a two-day event of speakers, a scholarship exhibit, powwowing, and celebration of cultures that is Fort Lewis College's longest-standing student-led tradition. Hozhoni Days honors what could be argued as FLC's oldest tradition: Native American education.
Each year, Hozhoni Days culminates in the Hozhoni Days Powwow, the campus's premier spring event, at which all Fort Lewis College students come together to celebrate the diversity the university stands for. For two days, Whalen Gymnasium fills with vendors, native dancers, singers, and performers from around the nation. Also, on Friday night's of the powwow, the new Hozhoni Ambassador is awarded.
The Hozhoni Ambassador Scholarship Exhibition, formerly known as the Ms. Hozhoni Pageant, is a contest consisting of public speaking and presentation. The person holding the title of Hozhoni Ambassador gains recognition the following year as the ambassador of Wanbli Ota and the FLC Native community.
Hozhoni Days dates back to 1966, when the Shalako Indian Club, an early incarnation of today's Wanbli Ota, turned a small on-campus event into a full-blown celebration and renamed the multi-day event "Hozhoni Days." The original Hozhoni Days consisted of three days featuring a banquet, powwow, and basketball tournament. Over the years, the Hozhoni Days powwow became a contest powwow and grew. Today, competitive powwow performers come from all over the United States to drum, sing, and dance on the Skyhawks gym floor.
The title "Hozhoni Days" bestowed by Clyde Benally, known today as "the Father of Hozhoni Days." Benally was a first-year student when he was asked by FLC's Deans to help make the Shalako Club more active. His response was the creation of Hozhoni Days.
"It was to have the students work together, so they get to know each other, and to share their Native culture, and to showcase it to the total student body on campus," says Benally, who graduated in 1968 with a degree in Humanities.
Benally chose the title "Hozhoni" because it is a Navajo term roughly meaning "beauty," although it also alludes to a more profound sense of harmony and balance. The word represented the goals of the event, he says. "It was the showing and sharing of our culture with each other and a way of developing brotherhood and sisterhood with other students who may be from different cultures."
The Shalako Indian Club's name changed in the 1970s to Wambidiota Club, eventually taking on the present moniker, Wanbli Ota -- meaning "many eagles" in the Lakota language -- in 1991. Wanbli Ota remains the prime sponsor of Hozhoni Days but also puts on events including, but not limited to, public presentations, speakers and artists, workshops, and cultural performances.