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United Tribes Powwow Committee Hosts Annual Celebration


The United Tribes Powwow Committee is once against hosting one of the longest-running contest powwows in the country.  United Tribes is the last of the large outdoor powwows on the Northern Plains at the end of the summer season. In recent years it has attracted upwards of 800 dancers, and more than two-dozen drum groups.  More people attend the powwow than any other annual event held in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

Since it began in 1969, the powwow had revolved around dancers in full tribal regalia who showcase their cultural heritage and talent to the beat of the American Indian traditional music.  The event was recognized in early 2008 with a North Dakota Governor’s International Tourism Award and is listed by numerous travel groups as a top event in the country.

Known as “Home of the Champions,” the United Tribes International Powwow takes place the weekend after Labor Day, September 4 – 7 on the campus of United Tribes Technical College. The event offers $80,000 in prize money for dancers and drum groups, and a vibrant display of American Indian culture for spectators.

“People should be able to look forward to attending the powwow,” said David M. Gipp, United Tribes Technical College president.

The current entrance fee is $25, and has remained unchanged since 2002. Although costs have been rising, the college does not charge any fees for camping or for a free buffalo meal on the closing day of the event.

“We know that people will be looking to hold down their costs this year by camping at the powwow,” said Gipp. “The camp is part of what makes this gathering reminiscent of large tribal gatherings in the past. We’re happy to offer the space.”

The 2008 featured performers are from the Sami culture. Ante Mikkel Gaup and his daughters Sara Marielle and Lena Susanne represent the culture of indigenous European people. Like Native Americans, they were pushed to the margins of their society and now live in the northern part of Norway, Sweden, Finland and western Russia where they continue to live close to nature cultivating herds of reindeer.

This year, tribal veterans groups are invited to take part in honoring Master Sgt. Woodrow Keeble (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2008 for his heroism during the Korean War.

The 16th annual Miss Indian Nationals scholarship pageant will be held September 3 to 6.  The event is a scholarship program for single, non-parent American Indian women between age 17 and 25 who can demonstrate their command of tribal values, customs and teachings. Top participants receive awards and scholarships and the chance to become a cultural ambassador for a year.

School classes and groups are invited to attend Youth Day on Friday, September 5, free of charge. The music and cultural event is a learning opportunity about Native culture.

The United Tribes “Parade of Champions,” is scheduled for Saturday, September 6 through downtown Bismarck. The event features dancers, singers, tribal groups attending the powwow, tribal leaders, Miss Indian Nations participants and groups from the community. Cash prizes are awarded in four categories of judging.

Two sporting events associated with the powwow are an open golf tournament on Thursday, September 4 that benefits scholarships for United Tribes students, and a softball tournament September 6-7 for both women and men’s teams.

The twelfth annual United Tribes Intertribal Council Summit meeting takes place the day before the powwow, at the Bismarck Civic Center. It is attended by tribal, federal and state officials, and also includes a trade fair.

The powwow begins with the first Grand Entry of dancers on Thursday, September 4 at 7 p.m.  It concludes on Sunday, September 7, with a free buffalo meal for all dancers, singers and visitors, and awards for champion dancers and drum group. All first-place winners receive jackets, gold medals and cash.

For more information about the powwow and associated events contact Sandy Erickson, by email [email protected], or telephone, 701-255-3285 x 1293, Fax: 701-530-0633, or visit or

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