(The Spokesman-Review)

The 10 Biggest Pow Wows in Indian Country

Sara Schwartzkopf

Powwow season is almost upon us.

Warm weather brings out drum groups, singers, dancers and the beloved Indian taco stands. The United States hosts hundreds of powwows every year, but which ones draw in the largest crowds? Going by the number of spectators, Indian Country Today lists the 10 largest gatherings in the United States.

10. Thunderbird Powwow

Queens, New York (July 25-27)

New York City’s oldest and largest pow wow brings out around 4,000 people per day and has around 180 dancers. It takes place at the Queens Country Farm Museum, the only working historical farm in New York City, and this year will be their 36th annual pow wow.

9. Eastern Shoshone Indian Days

Fort Washakie, Wyoming (June 27-29)

As the largest pow wow in Wyoming, Eastern Shoshone Indian Days has been around for 55 years. The powwow averages around 4,000 people, but at least 1,800 Natives show up to dance. They host more than 30 drum groups, and the event opens up with an all-Indian parade. Throughout the weekend the tribe offers a feast, as well as softball, golf and basketball tournaments. The pow wow also coincides with a neighboring rodeo.

8. Hart of the West Powwow

New Hall, California (September 27-28)

Los Angeles County’s largest powwow, Hart of the West gets around 5,000 people a day visiting the Hart Park and Museum. While not a contest pow wow, Hart of the West does do a princess competition and estimates that between 140 -200 dancers show up every year. It is known for keeping with Native values and traditions, and is embraced by California’s Chumash and Tatavium people.


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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
Ah-ho sister Sara! Ah-ho! This is a good list. But everyone knows that biggest is not always the best. Kinda like, the biggest frybread ain't always da best - ayy. When contest pow-wows came about, it sadly has grown and has now become the norm. The social pow-wows receive little fanfare, however they are revered as closer to traditions whereby family, friends and strangers came together to become acquainted, share great meals, exchange colorful stories, and singers and dancers compete not for cash, but for the sake of sharing so that all ages can partake and enjoy the kinship. These are some of the ways that the elders enjoy most and wish to pass on to present-day generations so that they, too, can in turn pass on to younger generations. There are no biggest and best social pow-wows because they each have their own intrinsic value. And they do not seek connotation, validation or measurement by number of attendees or amount of dollars involved. A host of congratulations goes out to those social or traditional pow-wows throughout Indian country that have gone on for years and years!