By JESSE POWELL/Montana State News

Despite a desperate attempt to remind Montana of winter, Friday’s snowy weather did not keep hundreds of people from witnessing the First Grand Entry of Native American royalty at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The parking lot was full a half hour before the event and the fieldhouse floor crammed with visitors and participants.

Native American dancer takes part in the annual MSU Pow Wow last week. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Krogstad.)

Pounding drums and loud singing in native tongues shook the rafters and drowned the noise as drum groups representing various nations, like Rocky Boy and Crow Agency, thundered in the pageantry.

The opening prayer to the competitions honored fallen warriors; the JROTC was present in the color guard. The solemn ceremony of remembrance and recognition was for those whose sacrifice continues to maintain our freedom. There was a significant cultural celebration as well.

“You want to have the Native perspective,” Orlando Runs Above nods his Denver Nuggets cap, giving his neck a rest from hard dancing with his tall headdress, “to have a full understanding of anything, you have to have a wide perspective and listen to many things before you can state a judgment of anything…despite what you may believe in the beginning. You must be open.”

The causeway between merchandise vendors and food vendors never let up being jammed as it ran next to the dance floor and encampments of drum teams. Part of the spirit of celebration could be felt in the knots of kindred catching-up or being introduced. There was no separation between observers and performers. Shuffling in line to get an Indian taco, one sometimes had to dodge the magnificent plumages of headdress and shoulder “wings.”

A bounce castle was available for children for $2 for four minutes. The castle was manned by a father with his teen daughters to assist in ordering the children. They were extremely effective at getting large gangs of children and allowed parents some time to enjoy festivities.

Mark Thunderwolf, poet and renowned Native American flutist, was there meeting fans and autographing pictures. Other vendors sold more exotic wares, pelts, teeth, and turtle shells. Native handicrafts were the mainstay and provided visitors with an array of artistry and inspiration not normally available to Bozemanites. The powwow was an excellent unofficial start to Gallatin County’s parade of summer activities.

Edited by Tristan Abbott.

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