Summer is nearly here, which means the pow wow season is about to really heat up. That’s why we’ve put together a simplified guide for any pow wow lovin’ guy or gal out there who may want to fire up the car, throw the kids in the backseat, and pin a road map on the dash (it’s more romantic to imagine it that way, GPS device be damned) and blaze the perfect pow wow trail. We’ve broken the country up into six regions, but by no means is this list comprehensive—the modern pow wow schedule is so varied and stimulating that it would take many more pages (and staff members!) to come up with anything that could even begin to capture the breadth of the upcoming pow wow offerings. This is merely a quick peek at a few pow wows that caught our eye, and that might, should you attend, sooth your soul.
So come for a ride down both coasts, across the often-great plains, over those majestic mountains and into the desert—no matter where you may roam, there’s likely a pow wow you’ll want to attend.
As you read this, Albuquerque has just finished hosting one of the biggest pow wows in the country, the Gathering of Nations from April 28-30. But the Gathering isn’t the only game in New Mexico. From May 7-8, the 10th Annual Socorro Mother’s Day Contest Pow Wow takes place in Sedillo Park in Socorro. Organized by Turtle Mountain Ojibwe member Donna Monette, this is the Little Pow Wow That Could (it keeps growing every year), with past performances by the likes of Andrew Thomas, a Diné flute player who has travelled and performed around the world, drawing more people each year. The chicken dance contest is also worth the price of admission. For more information, contact the creator of the event herself, Donna Monette, at 505-881-8847.
From June 4-5, the 14th Annual Hon-Dah Pow Wow in the Pines takes place at the Hon-Dah Resort Casino in Pinetop, Arizona. Camp out and watch tribal dancers from around the U.S. and Canada competing in fancy and grass dance for $35,000 in prize money, and drum competitions with $7,000 in prize money on the line. For more information, visit Hon-dah.com.
The 31st Annual Paiute Restoration Pow-wow will be held June 10-11 in Cedar City, Utah. The Piaute Indian Tribe of Utah (PITU) like to combine the traditions of their tribe (they are made up of five bands, the Cedar, Indian Peaks, Kanosh, Koosharem, and Shivwits) with beloved pastimes, such as their annual softball tournament. The Restoration Pow Wow also includes the crowning of a PITU queen and princess pageant, as well as men’s fancy, grass and iron man special dancing. For more information, call Lou Charles at 435-590-8720.
The Shoshone Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation hold their Fourth of July Pow Wow & Rodeo from July 1-4 at their reservation in Nevada. The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is in a green valley on the Nevada-Idaho border. Along with the pow wow, there are footraces, watermelon-eating contests, jackpot roping, a junior rodeo and an open rodeo. The pow wow ends with a big barbecue. For more information visit ShopaiTribes.org.
There are few states as visually stunning as New Mexico, and few cities as beautiful as Taos, and few American Indian sites as breathtaking as the Taos Pueblo. Rising five stories from the base of Taos Mountain, the 1,000-year-old adobe Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-see for anyone interested in the living history of the American Indian communities of the Southwest (approximately 150 people live in it currently). Located just north of this historic site are the pow wow grounds where you can take in the 26th Annual Taos Pueblo Contest Pow Wow from July 8-10. You’ll see a vivid display of some of the best dancing in the Southwest, from grass and fancy dance to traditional buckskin (the oldest form of women’s dance) and women’s cloth. For more information, visit TaosPuebloPowwow.com.
The 38th Annual Little Beaver Pow-Wow held in Dulce, New Mexico from July 15-17, may lack the sheer size of the Gathering but does not lack heart. For more information, contact Dandy Vicenti at 505-486-0102.
The largest tribe in the country has one of the most interesting celebrations every year, as the Navajo host their weeklong 65th Annual Navajo Nation Fair from September 5-11, on the Navajo Nation’s 100-acre fairground in Window Rock, Arizona. Established in 1938 to stimulate livestock improvements through exhibits for the Navajo people, the fair has become a world-renowned event that showcases Navajo culture, fine arts and crafts, a pow wow, and junior and adult rodeo competitions. For more information, visit NavajoNationFair.com.