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GALLERY: Pahrump Powwow showcases cultural heritage of indigenous peoples

The 24th Annual Pahrump Inter-tribal Social Powwow took place this past weekend and despite being cut a day short by the intense winds that blew through on Sunday, event organizers said it was one of the most successful Powwows yet.

Kicking off Friday, Nov. 17, the Pahrump Powwow offered a cultural experience for all of the senses. There was music and dancing, colorful regalia, indigenous foods and crafts and plenty of opportunities to learn about the long, deep history of the Native American peoples.

“Many people who came out said it was the best Powwow yet!” An excited Paula Elefante told the Pahrump Valley Times after the event came to a close.“But of course, everyone was disappointed that the wind shut us down on Sunday.”

Elefante has been a lead organizer of the Powwow for many years and she’s watched as it has steadily grown into a mainstay of the local community calendar. It’s always a popular event, drawing patrons not just from Pahrump but from all over the surrounding areas, too. As with any event that does not charge admission, it can be hard to track attendance but Elefante estimated about 1,000 people made their way to the park over the two days of festivities.

At the heart of the Powwow were the songs and dances, representing many different styles and tribes. There were Aztec Dancers and Gourd Dancers featured and everyone was able to take to the dance circle for Inter-tribal Dancing. Keeping tempo and adding their deep, rhythymic sounds to the festival were two Drums, Southern Soul acting as Southern Drum while the role of Northern Drum was taken on by Bear Springs. And new this year were several special contests specifically for the youngsters in attendance.

“I think the highlight for me this year was the youth dancing,” Elefante remarked. “Tiny Tots, ages six and under, proudly danced in their regalia. All Tiny Tots are winners and all are given a blanket made and donated by wonderful friends of the Powwow. Also, everyone loves the Aztec Dancers, especially when Adolfo invites everyone out on to grass to join in the Snake Dance.”

Elefante said there were 48 indigenous vendors in total and they offered all sorts of wares.

“Both artisans and craftsman were there, as well as food vendors,” she said. “The Indian Taco vendors were always busy. Many of our vendors travel several hundred miles to be here with us, from as far as Farmington, New Mexico, Sacramento, California and various places in Arizona.

“Our emcee for the event is Michael Reifel and he is San Carlos Apache. Our Arena Director Marvin Redeye is Onondaga,” Elefante continued. “Our Headman this year is Ojibwe and Oneida and our Head Lady is Mescalero. Our vendors represented many different tribes.”

Elefante was quick to note that putting on the Powwow is far from a one-woman job, with a full committee dedicated to bringing this cultural festival to the valley each year.

“I need to extend a huge, heartfelt thank you to the amazing committee that gave many hours to bring this all together - Barb Blitz, Ron Galbraith, Donna Mason, Manny Riviera, Rose Humbert, Jim Hannah, Gayle McCaslin, John O’Brien, Sue Zink, Don Eisen, Carlene May, Thomas Allison, Doris Smith, Kevin Elefante, Laurie McCaslin, Bill Friend and Johnnie and Ruthan Grider,” Elefante stated. “A special thank you goes to Pete Whitehorse, as well. Pete has given 20 years to helping me organize the Pahrump Inter-tribal Social Powwow.

“And from the entire Powwow committee, thank you to the community for coming out to support the vendors and enjoy the music and dancing,” she concluded.

The Pahrump Powwow Committee has already turned its attention to the 2024 event and as Elefante noted, it’s going to be a special one as it marks a big anniversary for the event.

“It will be our 25th annual Powwow. As always, it’ll be the weekend before Thanksgiving and we look forward to seeing everyone there!” She enthused.

For more information or to get involved in the Pahrump Powwow Committee email PahrumpPowwow@yahoo.com or call 775-209-3444.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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