Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center’s longest-running public program celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this June when the Plains Indian Museum Powwow fills the Robbie Powwow Garden with drumming, competitive dance, and the vibrant cultural traditions of Northern Plains tribes. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19, with grand entries at noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
The powwow began in 1982 with just a few dancers and one group of singers who stopped to participate on their way to another powwow. It has since grown to include several hundred dancers—men, women, and children ranging in age from “tiny tots” to golden age—representing some thirty tribes from across the Plains, at least a dozen drum groups, about four thousand spectators, and more than forty arts vendors. Dancers compete for more than $30,000 in cash and other prizes.
Grand entries usher the dancers into the arena with a welcome and an opening prayer, flag and victory songs from the host drum, the posting of flags by the color guard, and a pipe invocation. Competitive dance categories include traditional, jingle dress, fancy, grass, team dancing, tiny tots, golden age, and chicken dance. Spectators are invited to watch the competition and can also visit the Powwow Learning Tipi hosted by Lakota educator Gloria Goggles to learn about powwow dances, etiquette, traditions, and songs. Powwow runs until about 9 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets for the Plains Indian Museum Powwow must be purchased at the gate and are good for one day of the event only. Admission is $7 for adults 18 and older, $3 for youths 7 to 17, and free for children 6 and younger. Historical Center members receive a one dollar discount with presentation of their membership card. The Robbie Powwow Garden is an outdoor grass amphitheater with limited bleacher seating; visitors may bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. each day.
Interested arts vendors and dancers may contact Rebecca West at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307.578.4049. For general information visit www.bbhc.org or contact Nancy McClure at email@example.com or 307.578.4102. Press passes are available through prior arrangement with McClure in the Center’s public relations office.
Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and Yellowstone natural history—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily through April; on May 1, hours expand to 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. For general information, visit www.bbhc.org, or call 307.587.4771.
Photo: Men’s Fancy Dancer Corey LeClaire, Lakota/Navajo from Durango, Colorado, dances at the 2010 Plains Indian Museum Powwow. Photo by Ken Blackbird.