Indigenous Cultures Institute
WHAT: Sacred Springs Powwow Goes Virtual
WHEN: September 15 through November 21, 2020
WHERE: On Sacred Springs Powwow Website: SSpowwow.com
WHO: Indigenous Cultures Institute, Maria Rocha, maria.rocha@IndigenousCultures.org
Yes, there will be a Sacred Springs Powwow this year – but its online beginning September 15 with a virtual grand finale on November 21. This popular powwow usually takes place on the shores of the headwaters of the San Marcos River at the Texas State University’s Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. The global pandemic forced a change in plans and this innovative and resilient powwow committee decided to go virtual for their 10 anniversary.
On September 15 the powwow website, SSpowwow.com, kicked off the powwow with an Education Tent publishing articles explaining the different dance styles and the history of powwows in the U.S. There’s also a Native Culture Tent that highlights past performances such as Andean Fusion, local children singing in the Coahuiltecan language, Marika Alvarado’s plant medicine, and other presentations. And the Powwow Dancers Tent features the contestants for 15 categories of powwow dancers.
“From September 15 until the grand finale, we’ll post the video of each contestant that enters the powwow competition so that the public can provide feedback on each dancer,” says Powwow Coordinator Javier Garza. “On November 21 we’ll announce the winners and showcase the first place dancers.”
The powwow is inviting all indigenous dancers in the U.S. and Canada to send in a video application for the contest. Judges from the powwow will review 15 categories of dancers including men and women in golden age, adult, youth, and tiny tots. The powwow will limit the applicants to 50 per category for an overall total of 750 dancers. Winners will be awarded first, second, or third place in each category except tiny tots – every tiny tot entrant will receive a prize.
“We honor our elders with the golden age category,” says Garza. “And we nurture our culture through our youth and tiny tots categories.”
In addition to the contests, the online event will showcase the history of powwows, the etiquette for those attending, fry bread and other indigenous recipes, highlights of presentations featured in the Native Culture tent each year, and descriptions of dances. For example, before a dance could be held on the prairie the grass had to be stomped down by the people now known as Grass Dancers. The Straight dance was conceived as a way for men to tell a story about hunting or warfare. The Northern Traditional Dance regalia is a modern evolution of tribal outfits from the tribes of the Northern Plains such as Sioux, Blackfoot, Crow, Omaha, and others. Other dances that are described are Men’s Fancy Dance, and Women’s Jingle, Cloth, Buckskin, and Fancy Shawl.
This year the online grand finale will feature performances by at least five Aztec groups from Texas in a stunning showcase of ceremonial dancing. This style of indigenous dancing is dramatic and has a fast, loud, pounding drum with dancers wearing high feathered head dresses and beautiful colorful regalia.
Fry bread is always a favorite food at the powwow. This year the online powwow will display at least four fry bread recipes from some of the most famous and popular Native cooks.
“I’m posting my own fry bread recipe that everyone here says is the best,” says Gene Randall, media coordinator for the powwow. “And we’re posting Dora Platero’s recipe; she’s coming back in 2021 to our live powwow with her award winning fry bread booth.”
Powwow producers are advertising the Sacred Springs Powwow nationwide and expect hundreds of dance contest applications. They are also highlighting the vendors that normally participate in the powwow, with contact information on how to buy Native arts and crafts by ordering online or by phone.
“We expect thousands of viewers for this spectacular, one of a kind cultural experience,” says Garza. “It’s never been done before in Texas and when it’s over, everyone will want to come to the real deal in 2021.”
This year’s online event is sponsored by Texas Commission on the Arts, Tomblin Family Foundation, and Friends of the Powwow members including Ironroots, Inc. For more information, contact Javier Garza at ICIinfo@IndigenousCultures.org or call 512-393-3310. On September 15, visit www.SSpowwow.com for the 2020 Sacred Springs Powwow Event.