For the 34th year, the Plains Indian Museum Powwow, the longest-running public program of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, brings dancers, drum groups, families, artisans, and appreciative spectators together the third weekend in June to share and celebrate the Native cultures of the Plains.
The Powwow takes place at the Robbie Powwow Garden on the Center’s grounds June 20 and 21, with grand entries at noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. After a welcome and opening prayer, host drum White Bull from Riverton, Wyoming, sings flag and victory songs. Competitive dancing begins after the posting of flags by color guard Apsáalooke Nation Guard from Crow Agency, Montana. Arena Director for the 2015 Powwow is Chico Her Many Horses, and Master of Ceremonies is Dale Old Horn.
Vendor booths surround the perimeter of the garden and feature authentic Native-made arts, jewelry, photography, beadwork, and more.
Dancers range in age from Tiny Tots (children 6 and younger) to Golden Age (55 and older). Competitive dance categories include traditional, grass, and fancy for men and boys; and traditional, fancy shawl, and jingle for women and girls. Specials include Women’s Fancy, Men’s Traditional, Men’s Chicken Dance, and Team Dancing.
“We have a fun addition to the friendly and unique nature of our Powwow this year,” says Rebecca West, Curator of Plains Indian Cultures and the Plains Indian Museum. “The ‘Fancy Shade’ Special,” she notes, “awards a cash prize for the participants with the best-kept sun shade area.”
Tickets (separate from Center of the West general admission) for the Plains Indian Museum Powwow are available at the gate on the southeast corner of the Center’s grounds the days of the event (good for one day only), and at the Center’s admissions desk for the week preceding. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 for adults 18 and older; $5 for youths 7 to 17; and free for children 6 and younger.
Center of the West members receive a $1 discount with a valid membership card. Dancers and drums participating in the Powwow, as well as their family members, are admitted free.
The Powwow Garden is an outdoor grass amphitheater with limited bleacher seating; visitors may bring lawn chairs or blankets. In addition to the arts vendors, the Powwow also features fry bread and Indian taco vendors, Kettle Korn, and other food and beverage concessions.
The Plains Indian Museum Powwow is sponsored through the generous support of Choice Aviation; Whole Foods Trading Company in Cody, Wyoming; The Local; and Coca Cola Bottling Company of Cody.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.