One of the largest pow wows in the world, the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, draws over 100,000 visitors a year. Last year’s Gathering also brought an address from President Obama, the first sitting president ever to do so. President Obama’s visage was visible via satellite connection to the jumbotron at the University of New Mexico’s football field. Last year’s Gathering also featured in this year’s Grammys – the winning album for Best Native American Music Album was 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow: A Spirit’s Dance. This album was the work of many talented artists who recorded live during the weekend event.
This kind of momentum means this year’s Gathering could be even bigger then usual. And that’s saying something considering more than 500 tribes from all over the country and Canada converge on Albuquerque in late April (this year’s Gathering is on April 28, 29 and 30). With the 2010 census putting Albuquerque’s population at roughly 870,000, each year’s Gathering balloons the population by roughly ten percent. This means if you want to take in this legendary pow wow, you need to plan ahead and know what you’re doing before you get down there.
Use The Gathering Site
The Gathering has maintained their website for 18 years and counting, and part of their site is devoted to helping travelers attend the Gathering. They include a discount code and a toll free number for booking hotel rooms (800-780-5733).
The Gathering is being held at the University of New Mexico’s basketball arena, called “The Pit.” The arena is located on the University’s South Campus. When it comes to the Gathering, the Pit is most famous for Stage 49 where some of the greatest American Indian musicians and performers around ply their trade, like The Miracle Dolls, Dark Water Rising and Happy Frejo.
Hwy 25, exit #223
The Gathering committee highly recommends that if you plan on attending you get your tickets in advance. The way to do this is visit the Gathering of Nations website. This way you can avoid waiting in a long line, it allows you to use a credit card (it’s cash only in person), and, if you purchase the two-day pass, it allows you to re-enter the Gathering at your leisure.
A two-day advance pass for Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th costs $38. Or you can purchase individual day passes for $19 each.
An advanced ticket for the Miss Indian World Talent Presentation on Thursday the 28th costs $14.
If you’re a vendor, a booth at the Indian Trader’s Market costs $550.
You can, of course, buy your ticket on the premises with cash.
There is also a $10 parking fee, which will be waived for any vehicle carrying four or more adults.
AmTrak has a special rate for anyone attending the Gathering, and the AmTrak Southwest Chief serves the Albuquerque area daily, traveling between Chicago and Los Angeles. Simply call 1-800-USA-RAIL and use the code X37Y-964.
If you’re driving, the main north-south highway into Albuquerque is the I-25. The main east-west highway is the I-40. The Pit is located on the southwest corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard, and can be easily accessed by exiting off I-25, just south of the Big-I, at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Head east on Avenida Cesar Chavez and The Pit is located on the right.
Bus Service – Local: (505) 243-RIDE or (505) 243-7433. Albuquerque’s public transit system. Call or visit the website for bus service times and routes.
Taxi Services: Albuquerque Cab Company can be reached at (505) 883-4888 or Yellow Cab Company at (505) 247-8888.
Train Service: New Mexico Rail Runner at 1-505-245-RAIL(7245). Train service from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and south to Belen. Shuttle service between Sunport Airport and Rail Runner stations provided by ABQ Ride.
The weather allows for all sorts of lodging options, from your basic hotels and motels to camping and RV parks. Although April can be gusty in Albuquerque, the Gathering falls late enough in the month where you can usually expect some nice weather.
The Albuquerque Hard Rock
SE Albuquerque, NM 87105-7469
The Hard Rock is a new sponsor this year at the Gathering. The new partnership between the Gathering and the Hard Rock includes having all the pre-crowning Miss Indian World activities in the Hard Rock’s show room. What this means for guests is a special discounted hotel rate during the Gathering, as well as discounted rates at the Hard Rock-Isleta Lakes Campground. For more information, visit the HardRock‘s site.
2020 Menaul NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107
You can call the MCM toll free at 866-650-4900, or visit their website to make a reservation. Located in the heart of Albuquerque, the hotel is mere minutes from downtown. As a sponsor of last year’s Gathering, ask for any discounted rates they might be offering.
Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown
2600 Louisiana Boulevard NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
For reservations, you can call the Sheraton at (505) 881-0000 or visit their website.
RVs enjoy a nearly unprecedented amount of accommodations for a major American city, with parks offering full hookups, internet access, and cable TV.
Isleta Lakes Campground
4051 Hwy 47
Isleta, New Mexico 87022
Discounts apply for Gathering attendees. Reservations can be made by calling (505) 244-8102, or by visiting their website here.
22 Calvary Road (4 miles N. of Hwy 14)
Cedar Crest, NM 87008
(505) 281 – 2005
12400 Skyline Dr. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87123
13500 Central Ave. S.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87121
For more information, you can contact the Gathering of Nations committee (keep in mind, however, it’s staffed by a total of three people, so please be patient) here:
Gathering of Nations, Ltd.
Monday through Friday: 9:00am to 5:00 MST
3301 Coors Blvd. NW, Suite R300
Albuquerque, NM 87120
phone: (505) 836-2810
fax: (505) 839-0475