A virtual powwow and dance took place on Thursday, Nov. 5 as a part of the La Cosecha Dual Language Conference, hosted by the Dual Language Education of New Mexico (DLENM).

The powwow was streamed by AMP Concerts, a local nonprofit organization that works either independently or with local groups to host concerts in the northern New Mexico area.

According to the La Cosecha website, the conference started in 1996, and the goal of the conference has always been to support educators, parents, researchers and practitioners whose goal is supporting dual language programs and other related immersion programs.

“A lot of the presenters are teachers who are actually doing dual language at their school. I would say that a majority of the participants are people in education,”  Patrick Werito, coordinator of tribal initiatives with DLENM, said.

These conferences hold a variety of different events, like a conference dance and fundraiser, peña music and a benefit concert.

According to Werito, this was only the second year of the La Cosecha powwow. Due to the pandemic, this year’s powwow had to be online and was made up of a variety of videos from the New Mexico State Fair, Gathering of Nations and the powwow La Cosecha had last year.

“A lot of the footage came from the Native Media Network. The gentleman that helped us, his name is Boye Ladd Sr. and he works with the Native Media Network,” Werito said. “When we approached him to think about how we were going to do this virtual powwow, he was able to work with the Media Network to get some footage.”

According to AMP Concerts, people could donate at the time of the streaming as well as afterwards. David Rogers, the executive director, thought of the idea of accepting donations at the time of the stream. These donations went back into funds for dual language programs.

“Those donations go into a scholarship fund for individuals who are thinking about becoming a bilingual teacher.  I know there’s one for Spanish language teachers, but now the thinking behind it is to include Indigenous language teachers,” said Werito.

The La Cosecha conference happens each year in November, coinciding with Native American Heritage Month, which was designated in 1990 and is meant to celebrate Native American people.

“To give some entertainment to conference participants, we were thinking about what we could do to be inclusive of Indigenous people, so the powwow came up last year.,” Werito said. “Since November is Native American Heritage Month, we just kind of included that.” 

Hannah John is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @yesitshannahj