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Popular Web Site Serves Pow Wow Country

MOORE, Okla. – The latest information on upcoming pow wows, winners of contest pow wows and much more are now available at www.powwows.com.

Powwows.com is the leading pow wow Web site, with more than 27,000 members. Established in 1996 by Paul Gowder, this site has grown into a large online pow wow community.

Visitors may join the forum by logging on to the Web site, reading the guidelines, agreeing to abide by the rules, registering as a member and picking a user name.

Pow wow dancers, singers and committee members, as well as those interested

in learning more about pow wows, log on to join in discussions and ask questions relevant to pow wows.

Many of those who answer questions about dancing, singing and crafts are well known in the pow wow world for their talents, experience and knowledge. Questions include pow wow history, favorite dancers and drum groups and how to make

certain items.

Each month, pow wow committees send in their event dates to be listed in the pow wow calendar. The calendar includes the location, date, head staff, host drums, contact information and a map to individual pow wows throughout North America. A database of more than 800 drum groups is listed along with individual databases of pow wow emcees and arena directors from throughout Indian country.

For those interested in learning more about pow wows, there are forums on individual dance styles, northern and southern singing and pow wow talk.

For new members there is an introduction section and an information section titled, “What is a Pow Wow?”

Also included in powwows.com is a section that discusses Native news and issues relevant to contemporary American Indian and First Nations people.

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The Web site has a pow wow photo gallery and pow wow videos. Most of the photos and videos are submitted by powwows.com members and include pow wow scenes, dancers and drum groups from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between.

“The thing that I am most proud of is that powwows.com and the two other related Web sites, nativegatherings.com and mytribalspace.com, are all generated by the users,” Gowder said. “I tried to build an infrastructure for people to contribute. Users send in 95 percent of the content on these sites.

The staff of powwows.com is made up of volunteers that serve as moderators.”

Each forum has a title such as “Chit Chat.” Within each forum are subforums. Chit Chat includes subforums for jokes, military discussion, teen conversation, polls and games. Members and visitors post threads that are relevant to each of these topics. When responses are received from these threads, the discussions begin. Some of these threads are very informative and indepth. Others are meant to be fun and are often accompanied by “lndian humor.”

One to five moderators are assigned to each forum to provide direction, insert insightful comment and mediate debate.

“I can’t do it alone,” Gowder said. “The moderators have been a major reason for the success of the forums.”

Gowder is constantly updating and adding new areas of interest to powwows.com. One recent addition is a free online radio station that plays pow wow music 24 hours a day, seven days a week at radio.powwows.com.

Another addition is a monthly podcast which features information on upcoming pow wows, news from the pow wow trail, interviews, the “Arbor Hour” from Arbor Records and more. A long list of links to other American Indian and First Nations Web sites can also be found on powwows.com.

The site also includes a special database of people who are looking for “that special someone.” Individuals submit their pictures, personal information and contact information. Online contacts can be accessed through instant messaging, private messages, e-mails and a chat room set up in different areas of powwows.com. Some couples have continued their relationship by meeting in person.

“I don’t make a salary from the site,” Gowder said. “Maybe one day it can be a full-time business for me. But for now, the revenue from the site pays for the software, hosting, travel to pow wows, equipment, custom development of programs, etc.”

Advertisements are a major source of income that supplements the operating costs of powwows.com, he said.

To learn more, visit powwows.com.