Cathey Franke shares images from the Gathering of Nations Powwow, 2010.

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.

1

Acoma Tribal Home

1. While generations have lived in the homes in the pueblo, many houses have been updated to include modern necessities such as screen doors. However, other conditions are still similar to the conditions of their ancestors -- no electricity, no running water. Daily tours are provided by the Acoma tribal welcome center.

2

Kiva

2. A traditional kiva at the Acoma Pueblo. A kiva is a subterranean room used for spiritual ceremonies by Native American pueblo communities. Very little is known about the rituals or activities that take place in a kiva.

3

Football Stadium

3. This year was the first time the Gathering of Nations was held outdoors in the University of New Mexico Lobos' football stadium. The event, attended by over 100,000 people over three days, included a separate Indian Traders Market tent, a music stage and an Obama administration contingent that brought a video message from the President.

4

Pollen Trail Dancers

4. Members of the Pollen Trail Dancers, a Diné children's dance group, perform at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM. In addition to year-round dance performances, the Center also curates a museum of pueblo history, local artists' exhibitions, a gift shop, and a cafe with native pueblo food.

5

Pollen Trail Dancers 2

5. Members of the Pollen Trail Dancers, a Diné children's dance group, perform at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM.

6

Performer Pow Wow

6. Gathering of Nations Powwow, 2010

7

Performer Pow Wow2

7. Gathering of Nations Powwow, 2010

8

Performers

8. Cuicani in Xochitl at Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, TX.

9

Performers2

9. Cuicani in Xochitl at Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, TX.

10

Performer3

10. A dancer waiting for his call to the dance circle. Gathering of Nations worked to promote the cultures and traditions of American Indian people for the last 26 years.

11

Elder Dancer

11. Elder dancer of Cuicani in Xochitl performing at Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, TX. Known for their energy and frenetic music, this dancer is in his 60's.

12

Elder Dancer2

12. Cuicani in Xochitl at Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, TX.

13

Performers4

13. Dancers overlooking the powwow field at Gathering of Nations.

14

Performers5

14. A dancer lining up for grand entry at the Gathering of Nations Powwow, 2010

15

Kids

15. Two child dancers walking into the dance circle for competition performance at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, April 25 2010.

16

Performers6

16. Three male dancers awaiting grand entry to the dance circle at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, where roughly 3,000 American Indians from 700 tribes in the U.S. and Canada gather for a cultural celebration.