United Tribes powwow a success

Sep 9th, 2013 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Dennis Neumann

OF SERPENTS AND FEATHERS. Aztecan dancers take the stage at the 44th annual United Tribes international powwow.

Thundershowers failed to dampen the fun and excitement of the 44th Annual United Tribes International Powwow. Top-flight dancing, powerful drum groups, and the Aztecan culture of central Mexico were featured during the gathering held September 5-8 at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND).

The group Explendor Azteca (XIPETOTEC) was in the spotlight, highlighting the culture of central Mexico. Gerardo Salinas, a fifth generation Aztec dancer, directed the group, which is based out of San Jose, California. Clad in elaborate and colorful head dresses that mimic birds and serpents, the dancers performed to a pulsing drum rhythm accented by the staccato rattle of seed pods on their leggings. An estimated audience of 6,000 people crowded into the dance arena to witness the spectacle.

The evening’s entertainment was telecast via the internet and Dakota Media Access, the local community access television channel. In addition to XIPETOTEC, the telecast captured the colorful grand entry, drum and dance competitions, intertribal dancing, and the introduction of the new Miss Indian Nations, Alexandria Alvarez. Hailing from Fort Hall, Idaho, Alvarez is Shoshone-Bannock and comes from a traditional family known for its brain-tanned deer hides. She earned bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts and American Indian studies at Haskell Indian Nations University (Lawrence, KA) and is currently a student at Idaho State University. She works as a journalist for Sho-Ban News and hopes to one day attend law school. During the coming year she will represent United Tribes as an ambassador of tribal culture, helping to address what she sees as “tremendous misconceptions about American Indians” before audiences throughout the region and around the country.

The powowow’s Parade of Champions narrowly escaped a thunderstorm on the trip through downtown Bismarck. The parade’s grand marshals were members of the 1973 Fort Yates Warriors basketball team who won the North Dakota class-A high school basketball championship 40 years ago.

During the event, veterans unfolded and displayed a U.S. flag from the World Trade Center in New York City, one of three flying over the towers on 9/11. “You can still smell the smoke and dust on it,” said David M. Gipp, UTTC president and a military veteran. The Cheyenne River Veterans Association brought the large 15 by 20 foot flag to the powwow.

All first place dance category and singing contest winners received a jacket adorned with the powwow logo, featuring the artwork Tom and Linda Haukaas. Second through fourth place winners received cash and medals.

The United Tribes International Powwow committee thanks all participants, spectators, workers, and volunteers for making the 44th annual event a success. The committee also expresses appreciation to companies and individuals in the Bismarck-Mandan community for sponsoring competitive categories and supporting the powwow and associated events.

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