Hozhoni Days at FLC

FLC’s longest-running cultural celebration and premier spring event is Hozhoni Days, made up of the Hozhoni Days Powwow and Hozhoni Ambassador Exhibition. The Powwow, or "Days of Beauty," is a two-day event of scholarship exhibit, powwow, arts & crafts market, and celebration of cultures.

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Hozhoni Ambassador Exhibition​

Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Hozhoni Ambassador Scholarship Exhibition, formerly known as the Ms. Hozhoni Pageant, is a contest of public speaking and presentations. The person holding the title of Hozhoni Ambassador serves as the ambassador of Wanbli Ota and the FLC Indigenous community.

Powwow

Date: Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, 2023

Hozhoni Days date back to 1966, when the Shalako Indian Club, an early incarnation of today's Wanbli Ota student organization, turned a small on-campus event into a full-blown celebration and renamed the multi-day event "Hozhoni Days." Over the years, the Hozhoni Days powwow grew into a large, two-day contest powwow. Today, dancers and singers from all over the United States participate in the Hozhoni Days Powwow and celebrate our vibrant Indigenous community at FLC.


The "Father of Hozhoni Days"

Fort Lewis College Early Hozhoni Days - Mid-1960s
Fort Lewis College early Hozhoni Days - mid-1960s

The title "Hozhoni Days" was bestowed by Clyde Benally, now known as "the Father of Hozhoni Days." Benally was a first-year student when FLC's Deans asked him to help make the Shalako Club more active, which he did by creating 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," said Benally, who graduated in 1968 with a degree in Humanities.

Benally chose the title "Hozhoni," a Navajo term roughly meaning "beauty" that also alludes to a more profound sense of harmony and balance, because it represented the event's goals. "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 history of Wanbli Ota

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.