After a gap of two years caused by the COVID-19 epidemic the Denver March Powwow returned at the Denver Coliseum last weekend for three days of cultural festivities.
Lawrence Baker, who served as the ceremonial master for the powwow, stated that it was “something that is greater than Facebook or social media could provide since we’ren’t trying to create the story. This is a tale of us. This isn’t an imagined model of who we are. This is who we are.”
Baker is an in the enrolled tribe of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation which is also called the Three Affiliated Tribes. Baker is also the grandson of Denver March Powwow’s original announcer: Paige Baker, Sr.
“The Denver March Powwow defined the modern powwow “is an event as well as a social gathering and an opportunity for Indian people to gather to dance and sing and to pay tribute to the history that has been handed down to them by their ancestral ancestors.”
Baker stated that around 1500 dancers were present and numerous drummers. The performers traveled from all over the country for the festival, which was celebrating the event’s 46th anniversary.
Although Baker stated that the prize money for the powwow — which was one of the largest in the United States is “all right” people showed up in large numbers because they were thrilled to be taking part in the powwow again after two years without.
“I believe it’s more about being family and also seeing others,” Baker said. “You know, I’ve not been there … due to the pandemic for the last few years. As I watch these juniors who are now teens. I’ve seen them as teens that are gorgeous young women as well as males. New clothes, I’m thinking WOW!”
Baker stated that he was pleased to see so many youngsters taking part during the powwow. “We could have missed the youth if they were doing other things,” he said about the young people.
In the final analysis, that’s the essence of what Baker believes that celebrations such as such as the Denver March Powwow are all about: passing on the traditions to the younger generation. The those who were on the committee are passing on to their grandchildren the tradition and significance of the event.
“We are determined to preserve what our forefathers did,” Baker said, “… and we’re working to impart that knowledge for the next generation as well as the generation that follows and to the generation that follows.”
The ceremony also celebrates those in tribal communities for their achievements, and also paying tribute to those who died.
LaDeaux estimates that a total 200 tribes have been to the festival during the last years.
He also says that the festival focuses on education.
“This cultural festival is very much about the education of children,” he said. “A majority effort is aimed at trying to impart this knowledge and knowledge to non-tribal people.”
This event also offers people an opportunity to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.
The health department of the state put up a mobile clinic for vaccination in front of Denver Coliseum. Denver Coliseum where the event was held, and offered FREE COVID-19 vaccines. There was no I.D. or insurance was required.
“Encourage anyone to go to get the vaccine. This isn’t just for tribespeople, but for anyone who is interested in getting this,” LaDeaux said.
Based on the most recent information provided by DDPHE, 61.3% (2,733 people) of American Indian people ages 5 and over within Denver County are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The most recent data of the Tri-County Health Department shows that 67 percent (2,059 persons) in American Indian or Alaskan Native residents in Arapahoe County are fully vaccinated and 61 percent (1,909 individuals) of them in Adams County.
LaDeaux says the event has brought the possibility of hope.
“There’s lots of our tribal members as well as many who have passed away who suffer from the afflictions of COVID. This is encouraging them to believe that there is an escape route out of this situation,” said the elder.