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Social Powwow returning to Pahrump

Thanks to the public health mandates laid down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been two years since the valley has played host to the Pahrump Intertribal Social Powwow, one of the largest events of the year for the town, but the beloved cultural gathering is now set to make its return and the community is already abuzz with eager anticipation.

Set to take place over three days next weekend, the Pahrump Social Powwow will include all of its traditional elements, such as music, dancing, food and of course, plenty of intricate crafts created by the expert and loving hands of Native Americans from an array of tribes. This event regularly draws thousands to Petrack Park throughout its three days and this year’s powwow is expected to be just as popular as ever.

“We create a cultural and educational experience for all peoples through indigenous music, dance, crafts, storytelling and food,” event organizer Paula Elefante told the Pahrump Valley Times, proudly adding that 2021 will mark the 22nd Annual Pahrump Social Powwow.

“The first couple of years, the powwow was organized by the chamber of commerce, then in 2001, they decided they didn’t want to continue,” Elefante explained of the event’s history. “In 2002, Sandy Stark, Kathie Stetler and myself got together to organize a Pahrump powwow. In 2004, the Pahrump Social Powwow became a 501(c)3 nonprofit and we have continued to grow and share our culture with our community.”

Giving readers a taste of what to expect at this year’s gathering, Elefante detailed a few of the participants slated to join in all of the music, fun and dancing.

“Pete Whitehorse is a craft vendor and has been participating since 2004. He has also been on the committee to help put together this powwow,” Elefante said. “Our Aztec dancers, Danza Azteca Xochilli, have been sharing the sound of Mayan music and dancing. Adolfo and his family have been a part of the powwow for 16 years. Michael Reifel first came to Pahrump in 2011 to do the job of master of ceremonies and he keeps everything moving. You just might see him in the arena dancing! Everyone loves Indian tacos and S&H Navajo tacos will be back, making this their 10th year at the powwow.”

She added that this year’s arena director will be brand new to the powwow, with Dean Webster set to travel from Southern California to take on that task.

Every year there are also “drums”, groups of Native Americans with a talent for playing the distinctive music of their culture, that make a special trip to the valley just for the powwow and this year will be no different.

With drumbeats symbolizing the heartbeat of Mother Earth, their deep, throbbing tones are meant as a way of bringing together the tribal peoples and all others will have the chance to experience the spiritually moving music that is such a key aspect of not just the Pahrump Social Powwow but powwows all across the United States.

This year, the Southern Drum, Black Storm Crossing, will be coming in from Arizona while the Northern Drum, Indian Hill, will be traveling from Apple Valley, California to undertake this special role. They will arrive late on the night of Friday, Nov. 19, so recorded music will be played on Friday while the drums themselves will take to the grass the following Saturday and Sunday.

The Pahrump Social Powwow will kick off on Friday, Nov. 19 at noon with recorded music and vendor booths offering an array of items and merchandise, giving attendees the opportunity to do a little pre-holiday shopping and pick up some keepsakes of their own. From 2:15 until 3 p.m. the Aztec dancers will grace the powwow with their rhythmic dancing. Music will continue until close, with the event scheduled to wrap up at 5 p.m. that Friday.

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 the Gourd Dancers will open the powwow and the Grand Entry, including recognitions and presentations, will take place at noon. Saturday’s schedule of events includes much Intertribal dancing and performances by the Aztec dancers, along with contests. Weather permitting, there will be a second grand entry that evening at 6:30 p.m.

The slate of events for Sunday, Nov. 21 will echo Saturday’s, with the Gourd Dancers once again opening the day’s activities with dancing at 11 a.m. and another grand entry, to include all dancers, set for noon. More Intertribal dancing will take place and the Aztec dancers will have their final performance at 3:30 p.m. There will also be contests on Sunday as well as a 50/50 raffle that will help raise money for the powwow and send one lucky person home a bit richer.

Storytelling is always a big part of the powwow too, and this will take place throughout both Saturday and Sunday at the Tipi that will be erected in the park especially for the event.

Admission to the Pahrump Intertribal Social Powwow is free and all are welcome to head out on Friday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 21 at Petrack Park, located at the corner of Highway 160 and Basin Avenue, to enjoy the cultural expressions to America’s native tribes and learn all about the customs and practices of the country’s indigenous populations.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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