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Photos: Pahrump Powwow showcases culture, history, more

Now in its 21st year, the Pahrump Inter-tribal Social Powwow attracted hundreds of individuals and families to Petrack Park over the past weekend.

The free event, according to organizer Paula Elefante, is a showcase for Native-American music, food and culture.

Elefante has been associated with the event for the past 17 years.

“It has been amazing,” Elefante said on the final day of the event. “I have had several people tell me that it was better than last year, and I thought last year was really good. Our Saturday attendance was great. The bleachers were full, and people were standing seven-deep to take it all in.”

One of the most anticipated elements of the event is what’s known as the “grand entry” at noon.

“The grand entry is actually the start of the powwow, and it is led by the staff carrier,” she said. “This year we were blessed to have a color guard who came in from Tucson, Arizona. The color guard was followed by the royalty, all the while, the drums are beating and the tribes all come in and post the colors. Different tribes, clothed in their traditional regalia, share their traditions and heritage through the art of dance, and each dance tells the story for that tribe.”

More than three dozen vendors also took part in this year’s powwow, according to Elefante.

“In fact, we had a waiting list and we sold out,” she said. “We had 40 craft vendors and that’s what I try to go for each year. I had seven food vendors. I had two Indian taco vendors and they both ran out of food twice on Saturday. The powwow has really grown over the years. I’ve had vendors who have come here for many years. I also had some new people this year. There was no stress because it was not a contest type powwow. It is a fun social gathering.”

Native American Louis Leonard arrived to take part in the event from Owens Valley in California.

“I am Shoshone/Paiute and I have been here many times before,” he said. “I can’t remember how many years I have been participating in Pahrump’s Inter-tribal social powwow because I’ve lost track. It’s a social powwow where people can have a good time and learn about the Native-American heritage and customs. I have also participated in competition powwows over the years.”

Additionally, Elefante said the powwow not only attracts attendees from across the country, but also from around the world, to learn of the Native-American heritage and traditions expressed through stories and dance.

“There were some people who came in from France on Saturday,” she said. “Alex Crow, who works in our tourism office speaks French so she was able to communicate with them. We also had some people from Germany and Alberta, Canada, and of course, we had members from many different tribes visiting from all across the country.”

Though sunny skies and mild temperatures were the order of the day throughout the weekend, Elefante said she had some concerns prior to the start of the powwow.

“The weather really turned out to be nice over the weekend, but on Thursday morning when we were here to bless the park, it started to rain. On Friday morning when we got here, we found a puddle in the circle where the dancers dance. We had to bring in a bucket of sand to fill that puddle.”

Earlier this year, Elefante said she reached out to several senior centers in Las Vegas to attend the event.

“I just wanted to let them know that when they are planning their senior activities, they should consider coming to the powwow,” she said. “The first year we did that only one bus came over. The second year, I had two vans come out, and that was pretty awesome. We also had two bands who came over from Las Vegas this year.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com, on Twitter: @pvtimes

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