2019 Benefit Pow Wow

Families Celebrate Tribal Cultures at Annual Pow Wow
Posted on 04/09/2019

Dancers in full regalia on the floor of the Cleveland High gymDrums and sacred chants, colorful ceremonial costumes, and the delicious odor of traditional Native American cooking are all part of Indian custom in New Mexico and part of Rio Rancho Public Schools’ cultural identity. Every year, RRPS celebrates these traditions at the annual Benefit Pow Wow, now in its 12th year.

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Elementary age boy dances with native regaliaMembers of tribes and pueblos across the region travel to Rio Rancho to display and sell arts and crafts, dance, visit, and participate in the festivities. It is a true family affair, where children have the opportunity to make their own craft, display their artwork, and participate in tribal dances especially for the young set. It’s also not just for Native Americans; everyone is welcome and admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

The ceremonial Eagle Staff and US and NM flags enter the arenaThe highlights of the event are the traditional Gourd Dances, which especially honor our veterans, and the spectacular Grand Entries, where participants of all ages wearing their native dress escort the ceremonial Eagle staff and the American and New Mexican flags into the arena. Throughout the day, traditional dance competitions are held in several categories. Typically, half-a-dozen or more drum groups participate; the lead drum groups this year were White Bull Singers (Northern) and Southern Red (Southern).

Pow Wow Head Man, Head Girl, Head Lady, and Head BoyOther Pow Wow officials for 2019 are:
MC: Terry Pecos, Jemez
Arena director: Earl Neconie, Kiwa
Head gourd dancer: Kendrick Stabler, Omaha
Head man: Joefox Hopper, Laguna
Head Lady: Niko Silva, Otoe/Choctaw
Head boy: Asa Robinson, Cochiti
Head girl: Daleshanece Holtsoi, Navajo/Laguna/Zuni

Mother adds feathers to the top of a young male dancer's headdress

The event is sponsored by the RRPS Native American Parent Advisory Council (NAPAC), the Rio Rancho High School Native American Student Union, and the Cleveland High School Native American Student Union. The Pow Wow provides a way for Native American families to bring the community together, to share their culture with others, and raise awareness about NAPAC with Rio Rancho parents.

Rio Rancho Public Schools enrolls students from all of New Mexico’s Native American tribes as well as many tribes throughout the nation. More than 11% of RRPS students identify as being at least part American Indian, with more than five percent primarily identifying as Native American.

Women and children process into the arenaA percentage of the proceeds from the annual Pow Wow helps to fund the district’s annual Native American Summer Academy, which is designed to integrate Native American culture into core academic areas. The program focuses on instilling a sense of unity and community among urban native youth along with providing an educational, cultural, and enriching experience for young American Indian students.