All photos courtesy Gathering of Nations
Grand Entry at the Gathering of the Nations

World’s Largest Gathering of Nations Celebrates 30 Years of Celebrating Native and Indigenous Peoples and Cultures

March 30, 2013

Born out of humble beginnings, the Gathering of Nations, the world’s largest gathering of Native American and indigenous people, will celebrate its 30th anniversary in Albuquerque, New Mexico April 25-27.  Considered the most prominent pow wow in North America, it will host tens of thousands of people and more than 700 tribes from throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world honoring three decades of Native American culture and traditions through dance, music, food and indigenous dress.

The three-day event includes more than 3,000 traditional Native singers and dancers competing and entertaining a capacity crowd, and more than 800 Native artisans, craftsmen and traders displaying and selling their work.  In addition, dozens of different indigenous bands will perform various musical genres on Stage 49, and vendors will offer a wide variety of food in the Native America Food Court and Powwow Alley

As part of the Gathering of Nations, a young Native  woman is crowned Miss Indian World and represents all native and indigenous people as a cultural goodwill ambassador.  As one of the largest and most prestigious cultural pageants, Native American and indigenous women representing their different tribes and traditions compete in the areas of tribal knowledge, dancing ability, and personality assessment.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Gathering of Nations, and we are busy planning for what we expect to be the largest and most exciting pow wow in the event’s history,” said Derek Mathews, founder of the Gathering of Nations.  “The Gathering of Nations strives to be a positive cultural experience that is exhilarating for everyone.  The pow wow features thousands of dancers performing different styles from many regions and tribes, offers the finest in Native American arts and crafts in the Indian Traders Market, a delicious variety of Native American and Southwest cuisine, and the best in contemporary performances in the arena, on Stage 49, and in Powwow Alley.”

The first Gathering of Nations was held in 1983 at the former University of Albuquerque where Derek Mathews was the Dean of Students, and a club campus adviser for the Indian Club.  Four hundred dancers competed and about 1,000 spectators attended the first year.  In 1984, the pow wow was moved to the New Mexico State Fair Grounds where it was held for two years.  Then the Gathering of Nations moved to its current location, the University of New Mexico Arena (affectionately known as “The Pit”), in 1986.  The organizers realized the Gathering of Nations had the potential to  become a larger event and decided to create the Gathering of Nations Limited, a 501 c3 non-profit organization, allowing organizers to seek financial assistance to produce the event.  Throughout the years, it grew to become the largest Native American pow wow in North America, but still honors its original intent of offering a pow wow contest that is fair to all dancers.

The Gathering of Nations is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the release of a new book and the launch of Gathering of Nations Internet Radio.  The book titled 30 Years of Gathering: Gathering of Nations Powwow is a look back at previous pow wows and is told through photographs and written memories.  The new book will be available in time for the event’s 30th anniversary in April.  Additionally, the Gathering of Nations Internet Radio was recently introduced on iHeartRadio offering Native  music of all genres including pow wow, rock ‘n’ roll and spoken word.

The 30th Annual Gathering of Nations begins Thursday, April 25, at “The Pit” with registration for singers and dancers and the start of the Miss Indian World competition.  The crowning of Miss Indian World will take place on Saturday, April 27.  The much anticipated “Grand Entry,” where thousands of Native American dancers simultaneously enter the stadium dressed in
colorful outfits to the sounds of hundreds of beating drums, begins at noon on Friday, April 26.

Gathering tickets cost $17 per day, $34 for a two day pass, or $50 for a two day pass with VIP seating.  They can be purchased at the door, or in advance online through mid–April.  For participants and guests traveling to the 30th Annual Gathering of Nations from outside the state, Southwest Airlines has special airfare deals and Enterprise Rent-A-Car has an exclusive rental rate.  In addition, the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel – Albuquerque is the host hotel for the event, and is offering special rates for camping facilities at Isleta Lakes. 

For more information about the 30th Annual Gathering of Nations, visit