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28th Annual Plains Indian Museum Powwow celebrates vibrant cultural traditions


CODY, Wyo. – “It’s hard to describe what makes our pow wow different,” said Rebecca West, curatorial assistant of the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, “but we like to think it’s a place for families and friends to gather and share their pow wow traditions with a larger community, and an eager audience.”

West is speaking of the 28th Annual Plains Indian Museum Powwow, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21 at the center’s Robbie Powwow Garden.

“The experience is a unique blend of competition, celebration and relaxation for everyone involved,” she said. “We want to thank the dancers, drummers and families who have made the trip to Cody through the years, and, as always, invite visitors to come and experience our pow wow firsthand.” The 2009 event coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Plains Indian Museum’s opening.

This year’s master of ceremonies is Robert “Corky” Old Horn from Crow Agency, Mont. Mike Her Many Horses, from Wounded Knee, S.D., returns as arena director along with head judge Garrett Goggles from Ethete, Wyo. Host drum is Night Hawk from Lodge Grass, Mont., with additional drum groups invited from Montana, Wyoming and North and South Dakota. The Arapahoe Warriors from Arapahoe, Wyo., will serve as color guard.


Photo courtesy Sean Campbell Logan Reeder, Kiowa/Wichita, Logan, Utah at the 2008 Plains Indian Museum Powwow.

Pow wow dancers – men, women and children – from tribes across the Northern Plains compete for more than $25,000 in cash and other prizes. Competitive dance categories include Traditional, Jingle Dress, Fancy, Grass, Chicken Dance, Tiny Tots and Team Dancing.

Spectators not only watch the competition, but can also visit the Powwow Learning Tipi to learn about dances, traditions and songs from Lakota educator Gloria Goggles.

This year’s specials – winner-take-all contests that give dancers a chance to earn additional recognition and awards – include women’s Fancy Shawl (sponsored by Artie Yellowhorse) and men’s Traditional (sponsored by the Plains Indian Museum). Sunday’s specials include men’s Chicken Dance (sponsored by the Plains Indian Museum) and Team Dancing. A Tiny Tots special is held after the noon Grand Entry on both days.

Grand Entry times are noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. Tickets are good for one day only and must be purchased at the gate. Admission is $6 for adults 18 and older, $3 for youths 7 to 17, and free for children 6 and younger.

Native American participants and visitors are admitted free. Historical center members receive a $1 discount with presentation of their membership card.

The Robbie Powwow Garden is an outdoor grass amphitheater with limited bleacher seating; visitors may bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.

In addition to viewing the spectacular dancing, pow wow attendees have the opportunity to visit 43 arts vendors and purchase everything from jewelry, beadwork and basketry to rugs, paintings, hidework and collectibles.

Food concessions include traditional frybread and Indian tacos along with burgers, brats and buffalo burgers.

Dancers and other participants can reach Rebecca West at or (307) 578-4049. For general information contact Nancy McClure at or (307) 578-4102.