The big kickoff event for the Pow Wow season takes place on March 18 in the Denver Coliseum at the 37th Annual Denver March Powwow. The event lasts for three days, beginning at 10 a.m. when the arts and crafts, storytelling, and dancer and drum registration opens. At 7 p.m. that evening is the official kick off with the Grand Entry, when the processional begins with the Heart Beat drum group carrying their drums and singing “A Living Hoop,” followed by an Eagle Staff, the flags (Indian Nation flags, American flag, Pow-Mia flags, etc), the Pow Wow Princess, visiting royalty, and the dancers in the Grand Entry lineup (in descending order from Golden Age to Tiny Tot.) The March Powwow is one of the premiere dancing events of the year, with intertribal dancing contests all three days, until the contest winners are announced Sunday, March 20, at 8 p.m.
A little over a month later, starting on Friday, April 28, the largest powwow in the world takes place, the 28th Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M. Headed back to the “Pit,” the University of New Mexico’s basketball arena, after last year’s outdoor event at the football stadium, the Gathering brings more than 100,000 visitors from around the country, including more than 500 tribes. This year is extra special thanks to a “Best Native American Album” Grammy nomination for “2010 Gathering of Nations Powwow: A Spirit’s Dance,” an album recorded at last year’s event.
June 3 marks the silver anniversary of the Red Earth Festival in downtown Oklahoma City. With more than 1,200 Native American artists and dancers from across the country performing in the 25th annual event, it’s a great place to bring the family. It is one of the rare opportunities to witness northern and southern tribes dancing (and competing) in one venue, with a huge selection of Native art on display and for sale. This three-day festival kicks off with the grand parade, where representatives from 100 different tribes in full regalia surge through downtown, and includes the Red Earth Youth Art Competition, in which students throughout Oklahoma and the region get a chance to display their original works and compete for cash prizes. It has become one of, if not the most respected visual arts events on the powwow calendar, with “traditional examples of beadwork, basketry, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, paintings, graphics and cultural attire during the juried art show and market.”