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Native American culture on display at annual Inter-tribal Powwow

For the next three days, Petrack Park will be awash in Native American culture, food and tradition as the 15th annual Pahrump Inter-Tribal Social Powwow gets underway.

Organizer Paula Elefante said the powwow is a celebration of Native American culture and preserves the area’s rich cultural heritage.

“Visitors can expect to experience dancers dressed out in colorful, elaborate Native American regalia.” Elefante said. “At the powwow, dancing is a major part of the gathering. There are kid dancing competitions and adult competitions. Each tribe has their own tribal dances. There is even a time where all the tribes gather for an inter-tribal dance,” she said.

Elefante also mentioned a spectacular must-see event for individuals and families attending the powwow for the first time.

“The Grand Entry is when all of the dancers will be coming into the circle. It is very interesting because the tribal male and lady elders go first followed by adult men and ladies. After their entry they get into the teens, juniors and tiny tots. The color guard will lead the Grand Entry and it’s just a wonderful sight to see,” she said.

The powwow organizer also said visitors will get to experience something new during the celebration.

“This year we have the Apache Crown Dancers and we are doing a special veterans ceremony. Veterans who have signed up will be receiving the Native American Medal of Valor. It’s tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday,” she said.

In addition to dancers, Native American craftsman will have their wares on display.

Attendees can sample a wide variety of authentic Native American food as well.

Elefante said the event usually attracts close to 30-to-40 vendor booths.

“Many of our vendors are arriving today and will be open for those who want to start their holiday shopping. So far there has only been one cancellation, but we have them from all over the country. I have one lady who is driving in from Wyoming. We have another vendor from Tahlequah, Oklahoma who represents the Cherokee Nation and we are welcoming a few from Camp Verde, Arizona. All of the vendors are artisans. We have about 30 vendors signed up and we try not to let it get too big,” she cautioned.

Marvin Redeye is one such vendor.

Redeye has traveled from Arizona each year to participate.

The full-blooded Onondaga Native American belongs to the Iroquois Confederacy and is also a master craftsman in the field of silversmithing.

“The powwow has been very good as far as the number of people participating and the families who come to see it. There are still a lot of people out there who still don’t know what a powwow is but more and more are learning about us and what it’s like to experience one. A lot of them basically come by to do shopping. They know that if they get something that’s Native American, it is made by the person they buy it from. It’s not bought out of a store or on Ebay,” Redeye said.

Town Board member Dr. Tom Waters is a regular powwow attendee.

He said the event has many benefits for both the town and residents.

“I think it’s fantastic that we do something to support our Native Americans. We also get to learn more about their culture at the same time. It’s also a great boost to our local economy because we get visitors from all over the country. There are powwows all across the country and Canada. To have one here is outstanding and Paula Elefante and her crew deserve all of the kudos for making sure we have a powwow here in Pahrump. At the last town board meeting we agreed on a proclamation declaring November as National American Indian Heritage month which is also great,” he said.

Pahrump is home to the Western Shoshone and Paiute tribes.

Elefante anticipates at least 500 to 750 people will pass through each day.

The powwow will start today at 10 a.m. and run through 3 p.m. Sunday.

The event is open to the public.

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