MISSION—Dancers dressed in colorful regalia and ceremonial clothing spread across the lawn at the start of the 25th anniversary of the annual Wildhorse Pow Wow as the air filled with the sound of drums and singing.
As dancers made their way around the circle to the beat of the drums, the voice of Jerry Meninick boomed across the loudspeaker to announce upcoming competitions. Meninick, a longtime announcer for the event, has witnessed the growth and resilience of the pow wow since its first years.
“The vision of the event was to help others, and in that, I believe we have succeeded,” he said. “I feel as though the dreams have been realized for the people here.”
From the rather humble beginnings of the event, the number of competitors has grown while winnings have swelled to more than $90,000 in cash and prizes.
This year’s host drum, Sharp Shooter, from St. Paul, Minnesota, led off the drumming rotation followed by a variety of competition drums representing tribes from the United States and Canada. Drums traded off for each dance competition as the afternoon continued.
Dancers of all ages were given the opportunity to compete in a variety of competitions, including traditional, fancy, golden age, chicken and jingle dances. Between competitions, intertribal dances welcomed tribal members of all ages and genders to dance together and express their individual styles.
For many competitors, and for the spectators, the event was not just about the prizes. Chaska John, 17, and his younger brother Jason, 4, of Yakima, Washington, have been competing in the event for as long as they can remember.
“It’s simple, I came to see family and dance; it’s cool to see the same people every year, and watch them grow.” John said. “I don’t think anything has changed, and that’s what I love about it.”
In addition to the dance and drum competitions, traveling vendors served a variety of traditional foods and Native American arts and crafts.