Thousands turn out for nation's largest powwow
Native American and indigenous dancers participate in the grand entry at the 30th annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, April 26, 2013. The powwow draws hundreds of competitive dancers and tens of thousands of spectators each year. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A thunderous, rhythmic roar of jingling bells and beating drums rumbled through University of New Mexico Arena on Friday as hundreds of Native American and indigenous dancers gathered for the start of powwow season.
The three-day Gathering of Nations, North America's largest powwow, drew more than 1,500 competitive dancers and tens of thousands of spectators from across the U.S. and parts of Canada and Mexico.
The festivities kicked off with dancers from Saskatchewan and a drum group from Quebec in acknowledgement of the "Idle No More" movement that is sweeping across Indian Country.
"It just brings the people together, just to reassure that we all need to stick together for the purpose and for the cause, that we can't forget who we are," said Larry Yazzie, one of the powwow's masters of ceremonies.
An unidentified dancer awaits his turn during the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, April 26, 2013. The powwow draws hundreds of competitive Native American and indigenous dancers as well as tens of thousands of spectators each year. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
Idle No More has garnered a worldwide following through social media while reopening constitutional issues involving the relationship between the federal government and Native communities in the U.S. and Canada. The movement began after indigenous groups protested a Canadian proposal that they said would threaten their self-governance and control of traditional land bases.
Rallies have been held in many U.S. communities over the past year, giving way to more awareness and a new generation of activism among Native Americans.
At the 30th annual Gathering of Nations, there was a renewed sense of pride among some dancers.
Aside from showing off their dance skills, some participants said the powwow was also a chance to reinvigorate interest in culture, particularly for younger generations.