P O W E L L, W y o. - The annual November Buffalo Feast at Northwest College features as guest speakers a Native American who has taken her poetry and jazz music around the world and an NWC professor who has devoted years of scholastic research to the interpretation of cultures through their music.
The program begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Trapper Rendezvous Lounge of the DeWitt Student Center. Advance reservations must be purchased by Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Joy Harjo, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Tribe and one of Native America's most recognized artists, will be introduced at the feast. She will offer a few words on celebrating Native heritage and then conclude her program at 7:30 p.m. in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium as the featured presenter for the NWC Writers Series.
Michael Masterson will bridge Harjo's two presentations with a discussion about the relationship between Native American and jazz music and how it can illuminate the cultures that gave voice to it.
Masterson is a professor of music and chair of the NWC Visual and Performing Arts Division. Area residents may be more familiar with him as the scholar whose research into the music of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show was the basis for a CD recording of the music by the Americus Brass Band.
Mary Baumann, NWC's multicultural program coordinator, said people who attend this year's feast are in for something new. "Joy Harjo isn't in the same vein of traditional programming we've offered at previous buffalo feasts," she said. "Her focus is on contemporary issues like feminism, politics, justice and other topics common to most indigenous peoples. It's people like Joy Harjo who are helping bring the Native American out of the museum and into today's spotlight."
Since her first collection of poetry, "What Moon Drove Me to This? ", Harjo has published extensively, including "She Had Some Horses" and her most recent work, "How We Became Human." In addition to poetry, she has also recorded three CDs, the most well known being "Letter from the End of the 20th Century." Among Harjo's numerous honors is the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts.
The NWC Native Ways Club holds the buffalo feast each year in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. The popularity of the annual gathering has grown so much since it was started in the early 1990s, that seating must now be limited in order to accommodate the room.
"We're already hearing a lot of interest in this program," Baumann said. "I'm anticipating an even larger crowd than usual. If people wait until the deadline to purchase tickets, they may be disappointed if we've already sold out, so I encourage everyone to get their tickets early."
Baumann said the buffalo feasters will enjoy reserved seating at the Writers Series presentation and also have an advance opportunity to purchase books and CDs by Harjo.
Some of the traditional elements of the feast won't change, like the usual fare of buffalo and other foods indigenous to the Americas. The evening also includes a sampling table of Native American foods.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $6 for NWC students and children 12 years and under. Tickets must be reserved before Tuesday, Nov. 6 by calling (307) 754-6135 or toll-free (800) 560-4692, ext. 6135, or e-mailing Mary Baumann .
Harjo's appearance in Powell is the result of cooperative sponsorship by the Northwest College Writers Series, Native Ways Club, Multicultural Office Programming and Music Department, and the Friends of the Powell Branch Library. It is supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art.