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United Tribes International Powwow


The 40 Annual United Tribes International Powwow began on this date a year ago. Begun in 1969, the International Powwow draws thousands from across the country and Canada to the United Tribes Technical College campus in Bismarck each year in a display of Native American culture and craftsmanship.

In 2009, the Powwow hosted over five-hundred competitors, and many non-competitors, in dancing and singing categories, as well as softball and golf tournaments. The festivities opened September 10, with the traditional ground blessing performed by Marcel Bull Bear of Kyle, South Dakota, at the Lone Star Arena. Categories of dance included individual and team grass dance, fancy dance, traditional, jingle, and southern straight styles, as well as the men’s chicken dance. in each gender and age group were awarded a commemorative jacket, a medal, and prize money. The jacket featured a design created by Native artist Thomas Red Owl Haaukas. Bismarck’s own Great Plains Indian Gaming Association women’s softball team took top honors, and Redwing, Minnesota’s Sioux Nation men’s team won the men’s tournament. The Fort Thompson, South Dakota drum group Bad Nation walked away with the prestigious first prize in the drumming and singing contest. The Annual United Tribes Parade of Champions was also an enormous success, featuring entries from many of the powwow’s dancers and singers, as well as special guest Congressman Earl Pomeroy. A single rain shower cancelled one of the grand entry events during the four-day powwow, but otherwise the weather was excellent. Soweto Street Beat, a Zulu dance group from South Africa, performed to a crowd of nearly 6,000 on Saturday evening and McLaughlin, South Dakota native Jennifer Mellette was crowned as the seventeenth Miss Indian Nations. Mellette, a student at Aberdeen’s Northern State University, is a member of the Standing Rock Tribe. The powwow ended on Sunday with an enormous buffalo dinner. Served by members of the United Tribes Technical College cafeteria staff to over 3,500 visitors, the free buffalo dinner featured 300 pounds of buffalo meat donated by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

This year’s International Powwow began yesterday and will run until Sunday at the Lone Star Arena in Bismarck; as always, everyone in the community is invited to share in this unique celebration of Native American culture.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job