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Ute Mountain Casino Powwow celebrates diversity of tribes

Dancers perform at a past Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Pow Wow. The event returns Aug. 19-20 in Towaoc after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. (Journal file)
Free event Aug. 19-20 in Towaoc returns after two-year hiatus

The Ute Mountain Casino Powwow will celebrate Native American culture through dancing, singing and drumming.

The competitive event will take place Aug. 19-20 at the outdoor powwow grounds north of the casino in Towaoc. It is free to the public.

Tribes from across the U.S. and Canada participate in the dancing and drumming competitions, said powwow Chairman Reggie Lopez.

“This powwow has really grown since it started 20 years ago,” he said. “We’re expecting a good turnout, especially because people have been so cooped up the last few years. Everybody is really ready to be back dancing and performing.”

The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021.

Total prize money is $41,600 for the dance and drumming contests. And a Hand Game Tournament at the casino’s Indian Village has payouts totaling $10,000.

Also featured is a Native American market with arts and crafts and food vendors.

Dance styles include Northern and Southern Traditional, Southern Straight, Fancy, Jingle, Grass Dance, Fancy Shawl, Cloth Buckskin and Golden Age (60+). There are categories for men, woman, adults, teens and juniors.

Judges award points for dancers based on the traditional performance, style and regalia.

Xavier Martin performs in a past Ute Mountain Casino Powow. (Journal file photo)

In the drumming contests, judges look for promptness, ability to sing as a group, rhythm and attitude.

The Ute Mountain powwow sets a high bar for competitors, Lopez said.

“The Four Corners’ Tribes especially have a reputation for having the best fancy dancers and the best northern and southern style singers,” he said.

Attending a powwow is a memorable experience, Lopez said.

“It is equivalent to the Gathering of the Tribes,” he said. “The spectators take in the unique variety of regalia, you see the diversity of tribes from all over. There are so many personalities and styles.”

Lopez said for the Ute Mountain Tribe, the powwow tradition represents a gift to the people. It seeks to balance what we take in the world by giving away spiritual performances of dance, drumming and song.

“We believe it is a time to heal the human spirit,” he said. “Visitors will experience that, be happy and have a good time.”

Organizers include powwow Chairman Reggie Lopez, MC Hal Eagle Tail of the Tsuu’lina Nation, Arena Director Farley Ketchum of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Drum Judge Jason Butler of the Northern Ute Tribe.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit utemountaincasino.com/pow-wow-2022.