Inside the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow

  • 01 of 09

    Welcome to the Gathering of Nations

    Entry to Pow Wow
    © Aileen O'Catherine

    The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow is the world's largest cultural event for indigenous people. Held every year in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico stadium, or the "Pit," it brings together song, dance, art, music and plenty of food.

    The Pow Wow entry fee is by the day, or with a multi-day pass. 

    Parking can be found in the many lots found around the Pit, and is $10 per car.

    The Gathering of Nations 2016 will take place April 28-30. It will be the 33rd annual event.

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  • 02 of 09

    Inside the Pit

    Entry Tipi
    © Aileen O'Catherine

     Inside the entry to the world's largest Pow Wow, you'll pass vendors and then get to the central causeway. The causeway makes a large oval loop around the 15,000 seat stadium. Getting to the stadium in time to find a seat means either getting there in the early hours each day, or buying a multi-day pass and doing the same. 

    There are cordoned off areas at the top of the stadium for those in wheelchairs, or those unable to go down the stadium steps to seats below.

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  • 03 of 09

    Grand Entry

    Native American Boys
    © Aileen O'Catherine

    Each year, the Gathering of Nations begins with the Grand Entry. Thousands of Native American dancers enter the arena dressed in their traditional outfits. The sounds of hundreds of beating drums bring the dancers in the door. 

    Grand Entry takes place four times, at noon on Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.

    The Grand Entry showcases what is truly a gathering of many nations.

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  • 04 of 09

    Miss Indian World

    Crowning of Miss Indian World
    Courtesy Gathering of Nations

     Every year, a Native American woman is crowned Miss Indian World. This young woman represents all native and indigenous people.

    The contest began in 1984 as a program for mentorship and leadership, and is now a chance for a young native woman to learn about native cultures and take that knowledge out into the world. 

    The contest has never been a beauty contest, but is instead a cultural pageant. She represents all Native people, and brings inspiration back to her community.

    Miss Indian World is crowned on Saturday night.

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  • 05 of 09

    Traditional Dress

    Costume Dress
    © Aileen O'Catherine

    The pageantry of the event brings people from around the world. For three days, more than 3,000 traditional Native American singers and dancers will compete. Over 800 traders, craftsmen and artists will sell their work. 

    Part of the thrill of this event is seeing First People in their traditional dress. This gentleman is part Mescalero Apache and part Cheyenne.

    More than 700 tribes from Canada, the United States and other places in the world participate in the Pow Wow.

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  • 06 of 09

    Native American Dancers

    Dance Performances
    © Aileen O'Catherine

    The Pow wow features thousands of dancers performing different styles from many regions and tribes. 

    Native American dancers are called to the stage at the bottom of the Pit, where they perform to drums and other musical instruments. 

    Categories include Gourd Dances, Junior Girl Traditional, Tiny Tot Boys, Teen Girls Jingle Dress, Teen Boys Southern Straight, Women's Northern Buckskin, Men's Southern Fancy, Men's Grass Dance, Elder Men, Golden Age Women's, Men's Chicken Dance, and more.

    Dancers come from around the world. In addition to many tribes that are represented from the United States, dancers come from places like Rotorua, New Zealand, Tenochtitlan, Mexico, Arviat, Canada, as well as local pueblos such as Zuni, and Santo Domingo. It's just as likely you'll see a group from New York City or Los Angeles, too.

    Drumming categories include Northern Drum Contest, Hand Drums, and Southern Drums. 

    Singing contests take place for Men's Traditional and Women's Backup Singers.

    Each distinctive category has its own special beauty.

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  • 07 of 09

    Indian Trader Market

    Food from Navajo Pride
    © Aileen O'Catherine

    Along the concourse, you'll find the Indian Traders Market. The market features arts, crafts and other items. There are also many places to stop for food. 

    These vendors from Navajo Pride sell flour, sopapilla mix, blue corn pancake mix, pinto beans and other food that is grown in and around Farmington, New Mexico. The foods are traditional for New Mexico and area Native Americans.

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  • 08 of 09

    Traditional Arts and Crafts

    Beaded Moccasins
    © Aileen O'Catherine

     Indian Market tables display a wide variety of traditional Native American arts and crafts. Beadwork, moccasins and other leatherwork, jewelry, pottery, traditional battle weapons, clothing and more can be found during the gathering.

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  • 09 of 09

    Stage 49

    Traditional Drums
    © Aileen O'Catherine

     Outside the north end of the Pit you'll find Stage 49, where Native entertainment includes comedy acts, music, traditional hand drums, dancers,singing, and more. Some of the music has native roots. Rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop, native flute, rap, it's all there. Dance can vary from traditional hoop dancing to Aztec.

    A glow party ends the entertainment on Saturday night.