CODY, Wyo. — The Plains Indian Museum is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Powwow on Saturday and Sunday at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Museum curatorial assistant Rebecca West said the event draws 300 dancers from all over the United States, nearly 5,000 visitors, and can be considered the largest, longest-running public program at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
The anniversary celebration in the Robbie Powwow Garden, adjacent to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, begins with grand entries at noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. Admission for spectators is $6 for adults (18 and older) and $3 for youths (7-17). Children 6 and under are admitted free of charge. In addition, BBHC members receive a $1 discount with their membership cards. Tickets are available only at the gates, which open to visitors at 10 a.m. each day.
The grand entry into the arena, which signals the beginning of the powwow, includes songs from the host drum group, Crazy Horse Singers, of Pine Ridge, S.D. A color guard of veterans from VFW Post 5503 in Crow Agency, Mont., will lead the procession of dignitaries and dancers into the arena. In the grand entry, all the dancers — men and women, elders and children — take part, each dressed in his or her vibrant, tradition-inspired regalia.
Following the grand entry, the powwow's schedule includes competitive contests, exhibition dances and intertribal dances. Some of the prizes offered in competitive events are sponsored by families of dancers and drummers, as well as community members and businesses.
While audiences are sure to enjoy the pageantry of the powwow, its significance goes far beyond what the visitor experiences.
"What is special about the powwow is not measured in years, numbers, or aesthetics, but in the relationships it has fostered since it originated in 1981," West said. "Although the size of the powwow has increased exponentially in 25 years, it remains a celebration of cultural traditions for the dancers, drummers, and their families. The difference today is that participants share those traditions with a much wider audience of several thousand visitors. "
Spectators will have two other opportunities to learn more about Native American arts and cultures during the powwow. Some 43 vendors will have a selection of Native American arts available and, the Powwow Learning Tipi will again be available from noon to 4 p.m. each day of the powwow.