Summer is nearly here, which means the pow wow season is about to really heat up. That’s why we’ve put together a simplified guide for any pow wow lovin’ guy or gal out there who may want to fire up the car, throw the kids in the backseat, and pin a road map on the dash (it’s more romantic to imagine it that way, GPS device be damned) and blaze the perfect pow wow trail. We’ve broken the country up into six regions, but by no means is this list comprehensive—the modern pow wow schedule is so varied and stimulating that it would take many more pages (and staff members!) to come up with anything that could even begin to capture the breadth of the upcoming pow wow offerings. This is merely a quick peek at a few pow wows that caught our eye, and that might, should you attend, sooth your soul.
So come for a ride down both coasts, across the often-great plains, over those majestic mountains and into the desert—no matter where you may roam, there’s likely a pow wow you’ll want to attend.
Eastern Oregon University hosts its 41st Annual Spring Pow Wow Celebration at Quinn Coliseum in La Grande, Oregon from May 6-7. This celebration includes a friendship feast, special honoring for Eastern Oregon University American Indian graduates and alumni, dance and hand drum competitions and a health fair. The Speel-Ya Native American Student Club helps put on the annual pow wow, and what a job they do. For more information, visit Eou.edu/powwow.
The 50th Annual Memorial Powwow at the Klamath County Fairgrounds in Oregon takes place May 28-29. The Klamath Tribes (the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin) have a rodeo as part of their annual Memorial Day weekend competition pow wow. You can then come back August 26-28 for the Klamath Tribes 25th Annual Restoration Celebration, which includes a pow wow, fun run and walk, parade, drums from around the nation and a youth rodeo. For more information, visit KlamathTribes.org.
The Julyamsh Coeur D’Alene Tribal Encampment and Powwow takes place from July 22-24 at the Coeur D’Alene Casino’s event center in Idaho. This annual celebration is one of the largest in Idaho, and includes an art auction, dance competitions that range from men’s grass and traditional to women’s fancy and jingle, as well as an art show, Apache skateboarders and a horse parade. The Julyamsh stickball tournament is particularly exciting—last year’s tournament had $25,500 on the line! For more information, visit Julyamsh.com.
Heading north, there’s the 37th Annual Kalispel Pow Wow which will be held from August 5-7 at the Kalispel’s Pow Wow Park in Cusick, in northeast Washington, near the Montana border. This is a great pow wow to check out the prairie chicken dance, as well as take in the drum contest, which last year had $21,000 in prize money. In the past, there has been a buffalo barbecue, a weekend long softball tournament, and a buffalo fun run on Sunday morning to burn off the calories. For more information, visit KalispelTribe.com.
If you stick around in Washington, you can visit the Indian Encampment and Pow Wowfrom August 11-14at the Omak Stampede Arena in Omak, just south of the Canadian border. Sponsored by the Colville Confederated Tribes, the Indian Encampment includes a tipi village, dancing and singing competitions and stick games to name just a few events. For more information, visit OmakStampede.org.
Continuing in this pow wow–happy state (and month!), the 22nd Annual Stillaguamish Festival of the River & Pow Wow takes place August 13-14 at River Meadows County Park in Arlington, Washington. Last year’s pow wow drew more than 11,000 attendees thanks to the Stillaguamish’s idyllic location and a long list of fun things to do. In addition to the traditional pow wow, there is a wildlife display with live eagles, a climbing wall, fly-fishing demonstrations, a turtle tent for storytelling, a traditional salmon bake, live music and river tours just to name a few. For more information, visit FestivaloftheRiver.com.