Denver Pow Wow: Native Medicine Through Humor, Dancing and Frybread

The Denver March Pow Wow was great healing medicine!
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The Denver March Powwow, held last weekend, once again maintained its time-honored tradition of delivering laughter, storytelling and frybread.

Head MC Lawrence Baker (Mandan, Hidatsa) was on the mic much of the time, helping coordinate the flow with a humor that eased tension away while teaching Natives and non-Natives alike some new ways of looking at the world.

He spoke of seeing everything bad with a good sense of humor, often at the expense of Arena Director Leo “Chico” Her Many Horses (Oglala Sioux). MC Baker joked that Chico was up for auction alongside this beautiful hand-crafted Cree bag.

The bag, made and donated by Johnna Denny, was modeled by Denver March Powwow Princess Makayla Irene Sage, with proceeds going to Riverside Indian School Graduation activities.

Photo: Mari Kurisato

Denver March Powwow Princess Makayla Irene Sage holding a beautiful handmade bag

Speaking of shopping, even more vendors of Native-owned businesses were here this year, with companies from places like the Navajo Nation, The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and even hometown Denver.

Proud local Tocabe Restaurant dished out Indian Frybread tacos at a magical rate. Props to the team of the Osage-owned Native restaurant; though they were the most popular food vendor there, they were serving customers in just 20-ish minutes when I went for my huge order.

Even the Denver Indian Health & Family Services (with its 100% Native board) clinic was at the powwow handing out flyers and encouraging Natives to seek out health care options and answers.

A highlight this year was Supaman of the Apsaalooke Crow Tribe, in the story-teller’s room. He sang his amazing Prayer Loop Song, told jokes (“Left-legged horse seeks right-legged horse for stable relationship.”) and even encouraged adults and kids alike to join him in rapping—though the kids were less shy than the adults.

The singers’ drums were especially thunderous this year, with chest-shaking beats that reaffirmed that the Native Nations of Turtle Island are alive, and thriving. The colors of many Nations and many Clans and families were represented in all categories, with Golden Age, Senior, Men’s, Women’s, Teens, juniors, and even Tiny-Tot dancers filling the arena during their dances.

Nothing brings a smile to my face like seeing the next generation following in the paths of their ancestors.

So I encourage you to go to your nearest powwow and take a look at the children, the young people, the seniors and our Golden Age Elders as they take to the drums and the dance floor.

They are proof that we Natives are alive, we are here and we are a defiant reminder that Natives cannot be erased, cannot be commoditized, cannot be made into myth, legend, or made to go away.

Follow Correspondent Mari Kurisato (Cote First Nation) on Twitter at @CyborgN8VMari