American Indian Council Pow Wow

Dancers participate in the 42nd Annual American Indian Council Powwow on April 14, 2017, at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on the Montana State campus.

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Montana State University’s annual American Indian Council Powwow was held virtually this week after being canceled in 2020 due to impacts of the pandemic.

The powwow started Monday with a youth day for children under 12 years old and events continued through the week, with awards scheduled to be announced noon Sunday.

Lisa Perry, adviser to the American Indian Council and director of American Indian/Alaskan Native Student Success at MSU, said people from all over the country have submitted videos for various events.

“Whoever has access to the platform is more than welcome to upload a video and use the hashtag,” she said. “… They can come in from wherever they are and don’t have to travel to Bozeman … It’s a cool opportunity for the Native community.”

Each day this week has been devoted to one category and participating dancers have been able to select songs from the host drum group, Young Grey Horse of Browning. Contestants upload videos of themselves dancing to a Young Grey Horse song to the AIC MSU Facebook page. Entries must have the hashtag #2021MSUAICPOWWOW.

Monday was youth day, Tuesday was chicken dance and traditional dances, Wednesday was jingle dress and grass dances, Thursday was the three-man drum contest and Friday is the fancy dance competition, according to the event poster.

Each dance event has three age categories: a youth group for children 12 and younger, a teen category for ages 13-17 and an adult cohort for people ages 18 and older. The winners are scheduled be announced Sunday, with each age category per dance style receiving a cash prize of $100 to $600.

Typically, the powwow, which is one of the largest in the state, would be held on a Friday evening and all day Saturday. The council decided to host the virtual event over the course of a week to ensure more people could participate, Perry said.

The seven student officers of MSU’s American Indian Council should be credited for their hard work, dedication and innovations to ensure this year’s powwow could take place, Perry said.

“Students have definitely put in a lot of hours to make this happen, making it as smooth as possible,” she said.

The council’s co-presidents are Holly Old Crow, a senior majoring in sociology and a member of the Crow Nation, and Allison Longtimesleeping-Reyos, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology and a member of the Blackfeet tribe.

The council coordinates with other powwows hosted in Montana to ensure there are no conflicting dates so more people can participate, Perry said. Next year’s powwow at MSU is expected to be in-person and is scheduled for March 25 and 26.

“This is a way to hopefully get us going in the right direction next year,” she said. “I’m hopeful that going into next year we’ll be in a good spot.”

Last year’s event was scheduled for the end of March but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic as MSU shuttered and events around the state were canceled.

People haven’t had the opportunity to travel and go to in-person powwows for a while, so it’s been great to have people enjoying the opportunity to dance, Perry said.

“That’s what I really appreciate and (it) makes me feel good to see people dancing,” she said.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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