Bloomington Pow-wow Celebrates Native American Culture

Organizers say the pow-wows are not representative of Native American culture, but do give the community a time for healing and laughter.

A tribal gathering at the Monroe County Fairgrounds brought dozens from across the region to Bloomington this past weekend. The annual Crossroads Pow-Wow competition showcased traditional Native American dancing, music and art, as well as a native encampment.

Woodie Richards, a member the Oglala Sioux Tribe and an award-winning artist, was the organizer and emcee of the event. He’s been performing as a dancer, showcasing his crafts and organizing pow-wows for the past 30 years.

Richards says although he does pow-wows to keep his heritage alive, pow-wows are not very representative of Native American culture. He says the reservations are the only places where Native American culture is truly alive. Still, for many who do not live near reservations, pow-wows are important social gatherings and a time for celebration. Greg “Smoky” Bowen, a Louisville resident and pow-wow dancer for 14 years, says pow-wows give the Native American community a time for healing and laughter.

Richards says many Native American children are still interested in learning their history and preserving their heritage, so not all hope is lost for his people.

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