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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Scene from 30th annual United Tribes Powwow Program
Scene from 30th Annual United Tribes Powwow Program. Courtesy united Tribes Technical College

United Tribes Powwow

Founded in 1969, the United Tribes Powwow is an annual championship of Native American songs and dances. During the September event, more than 1,500 traditional dancers showcase their cultural pride to the beat of more than 40 drum groups. Held on the campus of the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, Indians compete in 22 categories of dance competitions for teams, seniors, adults, teens, juniors, and small children.

Initially the celebration began as a traditional powwow, called "United Tribe Days," sponsored by the students of the United Tribes Technical College on the school's basketball court. Only a limited number of dances and drum groups participated in the early powwows, attended by a few hundred spectators.

The United Tribes Technical College was founded in 1969 by an intertribal nonprofit organization, the United Tribes of North Dakota Development Corporation, operated by five North Dakota tribes: The Spirit Lake Tribe, the Sisseton-Wahpton Sioux Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold. The college was the first tribal controlled vocational training institution in the nation.

Since 1990, a Miss Indian Nations Pageant has been held, at which a female ambassador is selected to convey American Indian values, customs, and teachings. Other powwow cultural activities include a youth day celebration and sports tournaments. An Indian Art Expo and Market showcases high quality traditional and fine art pieces from national artists. These include beadwork, quillwork, leatherwork, pottery, textiles, sculpture, paintings, drawings and prints, ceramics, metalwork, jewelry, and mixed media. Throughout the art exhibition, staged performances of traditional music and dance, along with oral renditions of legends and customs, are presented.

Other powwow events include the United Tribes parade that begins at the state capitol and winds through the heart of Bismarck, and the intertribal council summit, which is a gathering of all North Dakota tribal councils to address common issues to Native Americans.

Documentation includes a press release; the 1999 International Powwow catalog; brochure; two cassette recordings of featured powwow drum groups; a poster, and memorabilia, including an "International Powwow" can of soda pop.

Originally submitted by: Earl Pomeroy, Representative (At Large).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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