The annual Gathering of Nations kicked off on Thursday, April 27, with the 36th Miss Indian World pageant held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. 

Native American women from tribes throughout the country competed for the title of Miss Indian World. Contestants were asked to display knowledge of their culture, public speaking, interviews, essays, dance and traditional talents — like grinding corn, swaddling babies and storytelling. The powwow began Friday and lasted until Saturday night.

On Friday, EXPO New Mexico's event spaces were packed with attendees. Dancers dressed in bright colors: red, white, yellow, blue and green. Some dancers wore ceremonial dress that resembled living creatures such as horses or butterflies, other indigenous dancers from Mexico City resembled jaguars. 

Outside of Tingley Coliseum, vendors were packed, side-to-side selling fare such as Navajo fry bread, popcorn and jerky. The inside of the Coliseum was another story; bells, drums and the thick, stuffy atmosphere of people in close proximity wafted through the dance floor. 

Light pooled across the dance floor from spotlights up above as indigenous dancers waited in the dark to have their names called. Drum beats reverberated through bones and traditional chanting raised hairs on the back of necks. Slowly, a sea of dancers made their way to the center of the dance floor — some in a hypnotic up and down shuffle while some danced a fast hop. Regardless, all moved to the beat of one drum. 

Men, women, children and elders participated in the event. Mothers cradled sleepy toddlers on their rainbow beaded shoulders as they bobbed up-and-down. Not everyone participating wore traditional dress, instead wearing jeans, dress shirts, and cowboy hats, as participants joined in on the dance floor. 

Anthony Jackson is the photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.