8 Top Pow Wow Stories From 2014

ICTMN Staff
12/27/14

The pow wow circuit expanded in 2014, going beyond traditional borders both geographic and cultural. In July, hundreds of Natives gathered in Washington, D.C. at the First Gathering of the National Congress of Black American Indians; and in September, Vanderbilt University hosted its first-ever pow wow.

A few pow wows delivered some surprises (not all of them good), while others celebrated big anniversaries or kicked off some new traditions. Here are some of the big headlines from the year:

Nansemond Tribe Celebrates Land Grant

A 77-acre tract of land was granted to the Nansemond Tribe in February by Suffolk, Virginia, and in August, the tribe held its 26th Annual Nansemond Indian Tribal Powwow, marking the first time they had celebrated the event on their own land. The tribe plans to construct a full-fledged Indian village called Mattanock Town, complete with a tribal center and Nansemond cultural museum. ICTMN reported that the gift of land to the tribe was not free. A stipulation requires that the tribe raise an estimated $5-6 million dollars to complete the village, tribal center and museum within five years. If they meet those deadlines, the land could go back to the city.

Farewell, Pennsylvania

For 11 years, John Sanchez coordinated The New Faces of an Ancient People Traditional American Indian Powwow, but he decided 2014 would be the final year for the pow wow. “I just don’t have the time to devote to it and keep my day job,” Sanchez told ICTMN. Sanchez, Apache, is a professor in the College of Communications at Penn State University, where he is the only American Indian faculty member. And although his pow wow is fading out, he is confident he can continue to be a positive force for Native causes. “Penn State was very receptive to the kinds of things I wanted to bring to this university. I just bought burial plots here,” he told StateCollege.com. “I see myself here for the rest of my life.”

RELATED: Pennsylvania Pow Wow to End an 11-Year Run

RELATED: Like a Big Hug From Grandma: Denver March Pow Wow Celebrates 40 Years

Mile-High Powwow Still Flying High

This year, the Denver March Powwow, which has grown from its modest beginnings to become a major draw throughout Indian country, celebrated its 40th anniversary.

A Shocking Proposal

Headman dancer Johnny Nieto surprised the crowd (and his girlfriend) at the 11th annual Tule River Band of Yokuts pow wow with an announcement. “I want to do something crazy,” he said. “Right in front of my home crowd, my home people. It’s about time – Yendi Juarez, will you marry me?” The crowd erupted with joyous drumming and Native wails of approval. A visibly stunned Juarez, tears in her eyes and hands covering her mouth, nodded yes.

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