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Dancers head to the northern Plains

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Now that the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian's National Powwow is over, the dancers can look in the direction of Bismarck for one of the largest northern Great Plains gatherings.

The United Tribes International Powwow attracts dancers from across the country and internationally, especially this year, when the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre will perform during the weekend-long celebration.

Kahurangi means the ''Cloak of Life'' and is a full-time professional dance theater from New Zealand that demonstrates the Polynesian and Maori cultures through dance and music.

Kahurangi will perform for three days of the United Tribes International Powwow on the campus of United Tribes Technical College, set for Sept. 7 - 10.

The Maori dance group brings to life the ihi, or life force, with performances that focus on the Maori and Polynesian cultures to provide audiences with a better understanding of them.

Kahurangi has been in existence since 1983 and has performed around the world.

The United Tribes International Powwow puts a cultural and celebratory end to a week of meetings conducted by the United Tribes whose participants will deal with such weighty issues as law enforcement, government issues, state/tribal issues and probate reform.

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The United Tribes Leaders and Tribal Council Summit is in its 11th year and, for the second time, needs the space of the Bismarck Civic Center to accommodate all the attendees and trade show.

In conjunction with the tribal leader's summit, the tribal college forum will enter into its fourth year with a keynote address from Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Carl Artman.

A major portion of the college forum agenda will be climate change and how tribal governments, colleges and universities can get involved. Cultural knowledge of the environment is also on the agenda. Scientists from various disciplines will conduct workshops that deal with the balance of the environment due to climate change.

The tribal leaders' summit is scheduled for Sept. 4 - 6 and the tribal college forum will be held Sept. 5 - 7.

On the final day of the pow wow, Miss Indian Nations will be crowned. She will participate in various pow wows throughout the coming year. The present Miss Indian Nations, Ponka-We Victors, Tohono O'dham/Ponca, of Kansas, will crown the new Miss Indian Nations on Sept. 8.

Awards and scholarships are just part of the honor of being crowned Miss Indian Nations. The title gives the young woman a chance to be a cultural ambassador for all American Indian tribes.

Participants are judged on traditional skills, talent, public appearances and presentations, communication skill, speaking ability and personal conduct; and they have to answer several general and impromptu questions.