As concerns about COVID-19 continue locally and across the United States and Canada, the organizers of the annual Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Powwow have decided to cancel the event for 2021 out of an abundance of caution.
The Seneca Nation presented the annual celebration of Native American culture for 30 years before the onset of the global pandemic forced the cancelation of last year’s event. The powwow, which features a series of exhilarating dance and drum competitions, attracts competitors and visitors from across the United States and Canada. It is one of the largest powwow celebrations in the northeast.
“We had been hopeful to invite our family and friends from across Indian Country back to the Allegany Territory this year, but we feel that it is in everyone’s best interests to instead focus on 2022,” said Seneca Nation Councilor Tina Abrams, co-chair of the powwow committee.
The powwow honors Native American veterans and is named in honor of Marvin “Joe” Curry, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Snipe Clan, who led a long and distinguished career of military service in the United States Navy, serving two tours of duty in the Korean War and also serving in the Vietnam War.
Abrams said the powwow committee was especially hopeful to bring the celebration back after the widespread pain of 2020. Native American communities have been among the most impacted by the coronavirus. Federal statistics show that the COVID-related death rate among American Indian and Alaska Native people is nearly twice that of white people.
Now, the committee will soon begin plans for the powwow’s joyous return in 2022.
“The powwow is about community and coming together,” Abrams said. “For Native communities, the dancing, the drums, the songs and the culture bind us together. Being able to celebrate with one another and with our neighbors in the local community is especially meaningful. We’re looking forward to a long-awaited reunion and celebration next year.”