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MSU Graduation Pow Wow Exceeds All Expectations in Honoring of Native Student Graduates

By Logan J. Davis

The Minot State University Graduation Pow Wow was one of the best of its long history – not only because of the large attendance, but also the feeling and spirit of the people who made up the dancers and drums this year. The audience in attendance was eager to enjoy the tradition of a social gathering in a good way for the accomplishments of the MSU graduates. There were 22 drums in the arena and 202 registered dancers for the two-day event that culminated in an evening session featuring a special honoring for the graduates.

MHA Nation tribal member Mykal Drosdal graduated last year, but there was no 2020 MSU Graduation Pow Wow because of the pandemic. Still, it was a very amazing moment that he experienced, even though it was a year after his MSU graduation. Drosdal graduated in the spring of 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting. The MHA Nation tribal member received the honoring he richly deserved for his Minot State University degree and now he is doing his master’s degree in communication at North Dakota State University. He is also now working at the MHA Interpretive Center in his new job as the marketing director. Drosdal is the son of Lisa Thundercloud and the grandson of Ardel Jean Baker. 

There were dance competitions in several categories and several cash prizes were won by local MHA dancers. One of those champions was Jocy Bird of White Shield, who won first place in Women’s Fancy Shawl. However, Bird said she was just as thrilled about her children who danced and had a chance to enjoy dancing in the tradition she and her family is passing on to them. 

Annette Grant-Mennem is the MSU Native American Center Director, Diversity Council Co-Chair and Native American Cultural Awareness Club Advisor. She was busy all week, but she was pleased with this year’s event and she appreciated the support for the graduates and the event from many sponsors. 

There were native graduates from MHA Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Apache Nation, Pueblo, Red Lake Chippewa Nation, Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and Assiniboine Sioux. The following list may not be a fully complete list because some students do not fill in their tribal affiliation upon enrollment, said Grant-Mennem. (MHA Nation tribal members are in bold)

Desirae Armstrong, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Social Work

Brett Baker, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Management

Jasmyne Bear, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Early Childhood Education

Jayden Bear, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Early Childhood Education

Jordan Branch, Red Lake Nation, Criminal Justice

Isis Cabral, Apache Nation, Graphic Design

Tawny Davis, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Criminal Justice

Katelynn Demery, MHA Nation & Standing Rock, Social Work

Mykal Drosdal, Manda Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Broadcasting & Professional   


Julyanna Dubray, Early Childhood Education

Tylar Holland, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Radiology Technology

McKayla Howling Wolf, Social Work 

Troyleah Langerud, Social Work

Doreen Lyons, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Business

Braylee Malaterre, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Special Education

Brooklynn Malaterre, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Corporate Fitness/Wellness Mgt.

Annie Meyers, Mandan, Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Early Childhood Education

Alaynna Morin, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Psychology

Dorian Ulibarri-Perez, Pueblo of New Mexico, Social Work

Alivia Poitra, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Social Work

Meriah Poitra, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Social Work

Jordan Shearer, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Early Childhood Education

Crystal Snow, MHA Nation /Assiniboine, Nursing

Alicia Swagger, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Criminal Justice

Roberta Valella, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, Nursing

Alivia Poitra, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Social Worker

Sponsors:  MHA Nation Tribal Business Council; Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Tribal Council, MSU Students; MSU Diversity Council; and Visit Minot. 

“It was a great way to honor our graduates, especially after a year we’ve all had,” said Grant-Mennem. “It was an honor to have 22 drums there, the most we’ve had in my history here at MSU, and we know that without the drum, you don’t have dancers and without dancers you have no powwow. Thanks to all who attended.” 

The Victory Dance led by MHA veterans gave the warrior spirit to the people in attendance on Saturday night at MSU Graduation Pow Wow
Elizabeth Sam and daughter were enjoying the dancing while protecting their health at all times at the MSU Dome last weekend
The MHA Nation was represented well by dancers like Hunter Street
DJ Driver and his son Joltyn came into the grand entry together at the MSU Graduation Pow Wow on Saturday night
Jocy Bird of White Shield won the championship in the womens fancy shawl category at the MSU Graduation Pow Wow
Shylo Baker was one of the best in a filled arena floor in the mens competiion
White Shield can be proud of the dancing exhibited by Eya Fox at MSU Pow Wow last weekend
Some of the Native American graduates at their honoring including Mykal Drosdal (second from right)
Vonnie Albers, Lexi Driver and Vonica LaPlante danced in tribute to the MSU native graduates in the Honor Dance
Vonnie Jo Albers and Lexi Driver presented star quilts to all MSU native graduates at the MSU Dome at a special ceremony with Emcee Charlie Moran thanking Councilwoman Monica Mayer MD on behalf of the graduates
Who got out on the arena for the partner dance after the Graduate Honor Dance at the MSU Dome
Tonia Jo Hall took part in the grand entry last Saturday night at the MSU Dome
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