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4th Annual Teton Powwow relocates in Jackson

(Photo Courtesy of Central Wyoming College)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Central Wyoming College and Native American Jump Start will present the Fourth Annual Teton Powwow on Saturday, May 18.

This year, the event is relocating to Munger Mountain Elementary School, 12 miles south of Jackson, a news release states.

The powwow will be a vibrant celebration of Native American culture, featuring traditional dances, drumming and indigenous-inspired dishes. Spectators and participants are encouraged to embrace the outdoor setting by bringing their own chairs and dressing for the weather.

The event holds special significance as it takes place on the ancestral grounds of Jackson Hole, which bear the heritage of numerous Native nations, including the Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho, Shoshone-Bannock, Nez Perce and Crow peoples.

Ivan Posey (Photo Courtesy of Central Wyoming College)

“At the Powwow, the drums and dancers celebrate a tradition that transcends time, honoring and reaffirming the richness of our tribal culture,” said Ivan Posey, Central Wyoming College’s tribal education coordinator/director of the Institute of Tribal Learning and a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

Dancers, representing various tribes from across the West, will be showcasing both traditional and contemporary dance forms. Their performances are set to vividly capture the legacy and vitality of Indigenous cultures, offering a captivating display of movement and tradition, the release states.

Native American Jump Start also offers a College Student Dance special for enrolled Native students. Three men and three women have the chance to win a $1,000 scholarship each to support their college expenses.

“As a Jackson-based nonprofit focused on supporting Native education and employment opportunities, we are excited to welcome these students to participate in our college special and be able to support their journey as they pursue their college careers,” said David Deschenes, chief advancement officer for Native American Jump Start.

Among some of the distinguished dancers attending are Joseph Pratt from Oklahoma, esteemed as the Head Man Dancer, and April Kaulity from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, recognized as the Head Lady Dancer.

Also in attendance will be John Butler, respected as the Honored Male Elder, traveling from Texas, and Sandra Plentywounds, esteemed as the Honored Female Elder, representing Idaho’s Fort Hall Reservation. Providing rhythmic accompaniment will be the resonant beats from two host drummers: Mato Pejuta, hailing from Santee, Nebraska, and Little Brave, proudly representing the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

“The Teton Powwow is not just an event; it is also history, culture, and community. From the youngest dancers taking their first steps to the revered elders sharing their wisdom, each moment is a testament to the resilience and beauty of Indigenous heritage,” said Susan Durfee, director of Central Wyoming College Jackson.

Amya Whispering Rain Whelan, representing multiple tribes from the Wind River Reservation, will show the Teton Powwow attendees her Hoop Dance, embodying her deep cultural pride. For Whelan, the powwow holds profound significance as it brings together her entire family across generations, from ages 4 to 88.

Amya Whispering Rain Whelan, representing multiple tribes from the Wind River Reservation, will show the Teton Powwow attendees her Hoop Dance. (Photo Courtesy of Central Wyoming College)

“The Teton Powwow isn’t just an event; it’s a vibrant tapestry of traditions where connections are forged and stories are shared,” Whelan said. “For me, it’s a celebration of heritage and a platform to showcase my talents.”

Next, Darious Tillman, a proud member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and graduate of CWC, will take the stage with a Native American Sign Language demonstration with captivating storytelling that brings ancient signs to life.

To conclude, painter Al Hubbard of the Northern Arapaho Tribe will discuss his journey as a contemporary Native American artist, providing insights into his inspiration and artistic process.

In addition to the traditional displays, the full-day event authentically reflects Indigenous customs, emphasizing unity, heritage and community spirit. Central Wyoming College culinary students will offer Indigenous-inspired dishes alongside regional food vendors. Attendees can also explore diverse arts, including beaded jewelry and artwork from various tribes.

Central Wyoming College’s Tribal Wisdom Society students will host a free educational presentation, Wind River Cultural Presentations, on Friday, May 17. This event will be at the Center for the Arts Theater from 10 a.m. to noon. Two informational and engaging one-hour-long presentations, meticulously crafted with the interests of students in mind, will grace the stage.

The presentations epitomize the commitment to spreading cultural awareness and knowledge, inviting both school-aged students and the general public to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Indigenous heritage.

Prioritizing the sharing of Native American culture and fostering educational opportunities are key goals for Central Wyoming College and Native American Jump Start. Both organizations actively provide internships, scholarships and various forms of support for Indigenous students.

“We are proud of the programming that we do through our Bachelor’s in Tribal Leadership, and the outreach of the Institute for Tribal Leadership,” President Brad Tyndall said. “Our outreach especially through this powwow reminds us all of the important role American Indians play in our country.”

Event Details:

What: Wind River Cultural Presentation
Where: Center for the Arts Theatre, 240 S. Glenwood St., Jackson, WY 83001
When: Friday, May 17, 2024; Free one-hour presentations, 10 a.m. and noon

What: 4th Annual Teton Powwow, Saturday May 18
Where: Munger Mountain Elementary School, 7605 U.S. Highway 89 (12 miles South of Jackson)
Cost: $15 per car admission. All Native Americans are free.
When: Saturday, May 18, 2024, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; 10 a.m. Ground Blessing, 10:30 a.m. Dancer Registration Opens, noon Grand Entry

For more information on tribal nations who historically inhabited this region, visit www.nps.gov/grte/getinvolved/associated-tribes.htm.