Gathering of Nations: An expensive, yet profitable tradition

Posted at: 04/28/2013 9:54 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Shaun Griswold,

More than 100,000 people attended the Gathering of Nations Powwow this weekend in Albuquerque.

Among the dancers, singers and general spectators are some people who believe the event is too expensive and commercialized.

Quanah Henry danced at this year’s event. He said he spent more than $200 at the Gathering, on top of the $5,000 traditional outfit he wore to dance.

“To express our culture and our tradition like as you see here. There's like a lot of people here enjoying themselves,” he said. “People are probably trying to save money all year to come to this powwow.”

The $17 tickets to the event have remained the same for years, event spokesperson Bill Sparks said.

He contests the notion that the Gathering is too commercialized.

“This is a very sacred event. What you gotta understand is for this many nations to gather in one place, it doesn't happen anywhere else in the world,” Sparks said.

Despite the cost, dancers like Henry expect to be back next year.

“It's not going to stop me. This is what I do,” he said. “This is what I like to do and I enjoy myself.”

Powwow organizers said the event generates roughly $30 million for Albuquerque.

Hours after the drums stopped at the Gathering, hundreds of people joined UNM students for the annual Nizhoni Days Powwow sponsored by the KIVA Club. The free event brought together many singers and dancers who participated at the Gathering and many who didn't attend the large event at the Pit.

"Of course this is a smaller scale powwow," one person said. "But the meaning is still the same we're hear to share, talk, respect our elders, teach our children, something our culture."