The Denver March Powwow, also called the Denver March, recently welcomed over 1,000 Native American dancers and numerous drum groups from around North America for its annual event.
The event is one of the largest powwows in the country and was unable to take place for two years because of the pandemic. Hence, the longer wait made this year’s event even more special for all those involved.
When Denver March was initially created, it was built on the principles of community, family, and cultural preservation. Each year, the event features dancers, drum groups, storytellers passing on Indigenous history, arts and crafts vendors, and food.
Essentially, the powwow is a beautiful celebration of Native American culture from tribes all over North America.
The Lasting Impact Of The Denver March Powwow
The biggest takeaway Denver March attendants note is the sense of community it instills. Especially after a two-year hiatus, the event restored the importance of Native American rituals and traditions for many people. Another result of the pandemic was an increased feeling of gratitude.
That said, countless participants noted they were beyond thankful to simply have the opportunity to see everyone, let alone celebrate timeless traditions.
On top of providing a place for community, Denver March also provides a platform for cultural preservation. “We live in 2022, and a lot of people think that we lost our way of life, but we haven’t,” event participant Melting Tallow says.
With gatherings like the Denver March Powwow, Native Americans from various walks of life can come together and spend time showing love for their culture.
“By preserving [culture], it’s showing your offspring the things that you were taught from your parents or your great-grandparents,” Melting Tallow notes.
From Culturally Lost To The Nation’s Biggest Powwow
The history of the Denver March speaks to the resilience of the Native American community. In 1952, the Bureau of Indian Affairs introduced the Voluntary Relocation Program.
Upon its introduction, the federal government claimed Indigenous people would receive monetary compensation in exchange for leaving their reservations. The program encouraged Native Americans to move to populated cities like Denver.
Although the program presented itself as an opportunity for positive change, it created a particularly challenging time for Native Americans. For example, most of the program’s participants never received the benefits the government promised.
As a result, it was seen as another government effort to erase Indigenous culture and way of life.
Still, there eventually came a positive impact of the Voluntary Relocation Program. Because the program forced many Native Americans to Denver, it led to these people feeling lost culturally.
So, they started meeting and gathering, leading to the Denver March Powwow that exists today. “They host a little powwow to make themselves feel better about where they came from. Because you can’t just turn off who you are,” Lawrence Baker, the Denver March emcee, explains.
Gatherings like Denver March are an integral part of maintaining Native American traditions. The Native American community has endured more than most people can comprehend throughout history.
Therefore, passing down traditions and preserving the rich culture helps ensure their people don’t get lost in history.