November is National Native American Heritage Month and there is no better time to highlight customs of the country’s indigenous peoples, whose roots go back thousands of years and whose traditions and history still run deep.
For the past 23 years, this month-long observance has been marked in the Pahrump Valley with an event aimed at educating all people about the incredibly rich culture of America’s many and varied tribes, the Pahrump Intertribal Social Powwow.
Organized by the Pahrump Social Powwow Committee, the event is a highly-anticipated part of the the valley’s entertainment schedule, regularly drawing crowds. Hundreds inundated Petrack Park over the weekend of Nov. 18-20 to indulge in music, dancing and storytelling, as well as the foods and crafts featured at vendor booths.
“The committee was very excited with how well the Powwow went,” Powwow Committee member Paula Elefante, who has been working on the Powwow for 20 years, told the Pahrump Valley Times. “The Hummingbird Singers, our host Southern Drum, came back this year and they have been here four times over the past seven years! Bear Springs, our host Northern Drum, was there for the very first time and we had a third drum that came with the Head Gourd Dancer, Dean Webster.
“This year we had a Head Man Dancer, Robert Piper, and a Head Woman Dancer, Maxine Orozco,” Elefante continued. “We were honored to welcome back Michael Reifel, this was his 11th year as master of ceremonies and he has accepted our invitation to come back next year too. Also, Marvin Redeye, who has had a vendor booth in the past, has been our arena director of eight years and was back for us once again.”
Elefante noted that the committee was quite excited by the addition of a second tipi to the Pahrump Social Powwow this year, which provided a perfect venue for exhibiting items that have a profound significance for Native Americans. Inside of the smaller tipi, measuring 12 feet in diameter and erected with 16 foot tall poles, were a drum, war bonnet, breast plate, buffalo skull, large cowhide, beaver skin, several pieces of pottery, a knife and a waterfall rattle. The larger tipi, utilizing 18 feet poles and measuring 24 feet in diameter, was set up to offer activities for the younger set as well as storytelling throughout the day.
With an event like the Pahrump Social Powwow, which offers free admission to all, calculating an exact number of attendance is nearly impossible. However, the Powwow Committee was confident in estimating that around 1,000 people made their way through the park over the three-day event, with Saturday being the busiest day.
With an event like the Pahrump Social Powwow, it truly takes a “tribe” to make it a success and Elefante took the time to shine the spotlight on all those who contributed to this year’s event.
“A huge shoutout goes to Dolan Ranch LLC, Walmart, Valley Electric Association, Saitta Trudeau Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Ram, Pahrump Print Solutions, Tim Hafen and Janet McJunkin, Mark and Stephanie Roberts, H&M Pipe and Supply, Pahrump Valley Auto Plaza, Brenda Kampf, Pahrump Springs Chapter of the Nevada State Daughters of the American Revolution, Pahrump Nevada Genealogical Society, Daughters of the Indian Wars, Bill Browning, Barbara Blitz, Iris Hernandez, Marilyn Davis, the Hannah Family, the Riviera Family, the Galbraith Family and the Elefante Family,” Elefante raved.
“I also want to extend a big thank you to the committee, sponsors and the community for making this another great year. My first year doing the Powwow was in 2002 and I have had the pleasure of working with many awesome people over the years,” she concluded. “This year’s committee members are Ron Galbraith, Barb Blitz, Manny Riviera, Doris Smith, Bill McClelen, Sue Zink, Jim Hannah, Rose Humbert, James Rentz, Gayle McCaslin, Laurie McCaslin, John O’Brien, Pete Whitehorse, Carleen May and Thomas Allison. They are all my heroes!”
The Pahrump Intertribal Social Powwow is also slated for the weekend before Thanksgiving. The 2023 event will take place Nov. 17-19. For more information or to contact the Powwow committee visit www.PahrumpPowwow.com
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com