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Student competes at Sacred Springs Powwow

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Daniella Dakota Rodriguez, exercise and sports science sophomore, is seen Oct. 15 dancing in the fancy shawl competition in the same category she's been competing in for years now.
Photo by Lexi Altschul | Staff Photographer

A Texas State student competed in an annual Native American festival honoring her culture and celebrating the country amid a community of indigenous people.

The annual Sacred Springs Powwow was held Oct. 14-15 by the Indigenous Cultures Institute off the shores of the sacred springs of San Marcos, also known as Spring Lake at the Meadows Center.

Daniella Dakota Rodriguez, exercise and sports science sophomore, competed in the dance contest at the Sacred Springs Powwow.

Rodriguez, a member of the Lipan Apache tribe in McAllen, Texas, said she has danced since she was 2. When she was a child, Rodriguez said her father would get out his drum so she and her siblings could practice traditional dances in their garage.

Rodriguez is a fancy shawl dancer, a style mimicking the flight of a butterfly. During the dance, she wears a shawl around her shoulders while dancing on beat with the music, spinning and jumping often.

In competition, dancers have to ensure they keep up with the beat of the drum by starting and stomping on time.

Rodriguez said she competes and dances for her ancestors who have passed away and as a sign of respect for the veterans who have fought for the American flag.

Rodriguez and her family have traveled across Texas and to other states to attend and compete in powwows.

“A powwow means all tribes coming together as one, enjoying each other’s company, having a good time and dancing for others,” Rodriguez said. “It’s an honor to be a Native American.”

According to the Indigenous Cultures Institute, the Sacred Springs Powwow celebrates Native American heritage and brings visibility to the indigenous people who have lived in Central Texas for over 13,000 years.

The sacred springs of San Marcos are considered to be the origination site of the Coahuiltecan people as told by their creation story, documented by a 4,000-year-old rock painting near Comstock, Texas.

Maria Rocha, executive director for the Indigenous Cultures Institute, said one group within the target audience for the powwow is the indigenous-Hispanic student population at Texas State.

“We hope they may learn to embrace their indigenous identity and value the heritage that is unique to them,” Rocha said.

Rodriguez was not the only Bobcat to attend the event. The powwow was co-sponsored by four student organizations including the Hispanic Business Student Association, Hombres Unidos, Sigma Lambda Beta and Sigma Lambda Gamma.

Nallely Sanchez, parliamentarian for HBSA and exercise and sports science senior, volunteered in a vendor tent at the powwow.

“You can feel the pride within the whole event, everyone from the volunteers to the dancers, because it exemplifies the meaning of our heritage and how we all come together to celebrate,” Sanchez said.

Rodriguez said that she is glad there is a powwow held in San Marcos because students have the chance to learn more about Native American culture and history.

“Having a powwow in San Marcos, something that is such a big part of my identity, makes attending Texas State feel more like home,” Rodriguez said. “It makes me very happy because everyone is here together and having a good time.”

This was the first time Rodriguez participated in the Sacred Springs Powwow. She said she was competing for her father who was unable to attend the event.

Rodriguez placed second in the fancy shawl dance on Oct. 15.

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