Thousands of Native Americans traveled great distances to celebrate and preserve their various cultures at last weekend’s Gathering of Nations.
Almost 3,000 Native Americans attended the event, representing over 700 tribes reaching from Canada to the southern United States.
Isaiah Stewart, a fine arts major at the University of Kansas, said he applies his culture to modern life and his artwork to keep the traditions of his heritage alive.
“I kind of apply it and rock with it … I adopt and transfer things from my culture, like in my artwork I tell stories through modern day things,” Stewart said.
The gathering brought many people together from across the U.S.. Stewart said he was able to reunite with old family friends at the event.
“There’s a man who took me around when I was younger — he’s a little bit older now, but I just remember those special times when I was little and maybe my dad was busy doing something so he would take me around powwows and teach me the ways,” he said.
Nathan Chasing Horse said he appreciates the gathering as a way of preserving his culture. He said the PowWow is something that everyone in the western society can learn from.
“It empowers me; it keeps me alcohol-free,” Chasing Horse said. “Without culture and our way of life we would probably be like a lost culture, like the western society today.”
Frederick Morales, also known as Laughing Bear, said he travelled with his family to experience the powwow. The 10-hour drive he took to attend the event was well worth it, he said
“This is my sixth time at the Gathering of Nations,” Morales said. “The people that come from all around the world for this event show the diversity of people that are here and the good vibe that it gives. It’s like a spiritual uplifting to see this many people gathered together in a strong way.”
Larry Street, a booth owner at the powwow, said he agreed with Morales.
Street said he has been coming to the Gathering of Nations since 1972, and said he wouldn’t miss one for the world.
”It’s a new experience every time we come here,” Street said. “We rekindle family and friend relationships, my sons come here to dance, my daughter-in-law dances and my grandsons dance and celebrate. It’s like a big family reunion.”