A fancy shawl dancer participates in the Grand Entry of the 2010 Las Vegas Intertribal Powwow. This year’s powwow is this weekend. (Courtesy)
by John Przybys, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Think of it as a fun weekend outing for the family. Think of it as a way of appreciating Native American culture. Think of it, even, as an educational afternoon for the kids.
On second thought, don’t dwell too much on that last one when you tell the kids you’re going to the Las Vegas Intertribal Veterans Powwow this weekend at Sunset Park.
After all: Why ruin the fun?
This year’s powwow, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, is the ninth anniversary edition of the event, said Regina Brady, vice president of Native American Community Services, the nonprofit organization that organizes it. It’s also the first year that the powwow will take place at Sunset Park, after having spent several years near Sam Boyd Stadium.
All veterans, both Native American and others, will be honored during this year’s powwow through the conducting of a special ceremony and the presentation of medals, Brady said.
It is, she added, “an opportunity for us to give back to the veterans, because we consider veterans warriors.”
Each performance will include a grand entry, which precedes a powwow and “which is basically bringing in the colors,” Brady said. The veterans medal ceremony will follow.
To participate, veterans are asked to register at the booth at the main gate. Veterans will be asked to provide their names, branch of service and last rank, and proof of service (for example, a discharge form or a membership card of a recognized veterans organization).
There is no cost to veterans for either the medal or to participate in the powwow, Brady said. Military veterans — as well as police officers and firefighters — also will be admitted into the powwow at no charge.
Each day’s roster of events will include a grand entry before each session, as well as such activities as dance competitions, singers, drummers and people wearing traditional Native American dress.
The Gourd Dance, in which the circle is blessed before dancing begins, is scheduled for 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. Grand entry is scheduled for noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.
Also featured at the powwow will be food and craft vendors and Native American dancers and drummers.
“What it is, is, we’re sharing our culture with people,” Brady said.
The annual event typically attracts several thousand people, she added. “People come from all over. We get calls from Canada. We’ve gotten calls from Washington.”
Because the powwow is open to members of any Native American nation, Brady said visitors will view a broad cross-section of Native American culture.
“We are a combination of all different tribal nations that have moved to Las Vegas,” she said. “A lot of native people like myself … were not raised on reservations. We were raised in, say, urban (areas).”
Native American Community Services, she added, was created as a vehicle to “bring those people together.”
The powwow also is designed to be affordable, so admission is $5 per person or $10 for families, Brady said. “The reason we do charge is, we have to pay for the park and we have to pay for medals. And, this is our fundraiser. But, yes, we want it to be a family event.”
Limited bleacher seating will be available, so guests can bring blankets and chairs, Brady said.
Note that powwow etiquette requires asking participants for permission before taking their photos. Also, no pets of any sort will be permitted, and drugs, alcohol and firearms are prohibited.
Plans are to continue holding the Las Vegas Intertribal Veterans Powwow as an annual community event, Brady said. “This is something we want to continue and be part of for the Las Vegas community.”
The goal, she added, is that “you’re going to be able to go and enjoy a family event and understand some of the culture of Native Americans.”
What: Ninth Annual Las Vegas Intertribal Veterans Pow Wow
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road
Tickets: $5 per person, $3 for seniors, $10 per family, free for military personnel and police officers and firefighters (702-443-3719)