Photographer’s Note: In the broadest sense, a powwow is a rally, a meet-up, to honor Native American culture. Because non-natives are frequently welcome, powwows are often ideal opportunities to bridge gaps between cultures and bring awareness to the rich panorama of Native American heritage.
I’d attended powwows in the past but I knew going to the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM, would be a completely different experience. This was the mother of all powwows, the largest one in North America, with about 700 tribes convening for song and dance over a span of three days. Visitors from around the world flood the University of New Mexico campus, eating fry bread, buying handmade Kachina dolls, and snapping tons of pictures of gorgeous Native American regalia (never “costumes”).
But, much like Albuquerque, the Indian influence surrounds us here everyday. Even after centuries, headlines still capture the struggles of social issues on the reservations. Movements are still being launched to preserve native languages and spiritual sites.The history is celebrated everywhere daily, through powwows, cultural centers, and the works of indigenous artists, dancers, musicians.
As Conran, my guide at the Acoma pueblo, said, “Many books have written us off in history because our population declined. They say our culture disappeared. But our culture is alive. We do not disappear–we are still here.”
Photos also represent the Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, TX.