I participated in a familiarization trip to Cody Wyoming including the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Plains Indian Museum Powwow. My travel and accommodations have been provided. All opinions are my own. Read more about my Center of the West Trip (#CenterOfTheWest)
While I was in Cody I was so very fortunate to be able to experience the Plans Indian Museum Powwow which was held over the June 15 – 16, weekend. The annual event is a chance for Northern Plains tribes to gather and celebrate their cultural traditions.
Competitive dancers enter in categories which include fancy, jingle dress, grass, team dancing, tiny tots, traditional, and the very popular chicken dance. They competed for over $25K in prize money and of course bragging rights.
Plains Indian Museum Powwow – Learning Tipi
Before the event got started, we spent some time inside the Learning Tipi with Lakota educator Gloria Goggles. Goggles is a popular educator from Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Inside the tipi she share information about traditional dress, dancing costumes, and the history of Powwows offering hands-on time with some of the items used by dancers in the past. This is a popular education program that is free to event goers.
Plains Indian Museum Powwow – Grand Entrance
At noon the event official began with a Lakota/Plains Indian Pipe Ceremony which was performed by a gentleman who reached his 100th birthday this year. After the Pipe Ceremony the Grand Entry took place the drummers and singers began and the Apsaalooke Nation Color Guard, Crow Agency, Montana entered the grass amphitheater.
Next came the dancers – men, women, and children. The array of colors in dazzling and the different styles of dance are fascinating. My favorite were the small children. Such looks of joy emanated from their faces. The Chicken Dancers made quite an impression as well. Their style of dance is frantic with lots of jutting elbows and spins which is huge departure from the more staid walking dance step of many.
The event is intimate – you get to see the emotion on the dancer’s faces and every movement they make and song they sing. The drums pound their beat right through your body. It’s a surreal experience you must feel on your own to understand the way it courses through your being.
Powwow Grand Entrance Video
Plains Indian Museum Powwow – Crafts & Food
After the Grand Entry I spent some time marveling at the authentic Indian jewelry, pottery, bead and quillwork, sculpture, paintings, basketry, clothing, art, and other objects for sale My time was very limited because I was catching a flight back to Seattle, but I still managed to see all 40 or so of the booths, twice.
I settled on two pair of earrings as a remembrance of my trip. I found other items I would have loved to have purchased, but I didn’t have cash on me and many of the vendors do not take debit or credit cards. Bring money if you’ll be attending so you don’t have to leave fabulous treasures behind as I did.
There is food available for sale as well. Indian Fry Bread, Indian Tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs, and more. I didn’t partake of any of the refreshments, but my travel partner did and she said they were fabulous. She chose both the Indian Fry Bread and the Indian Taco.
Plains Indian Museum Powwow – An Intimate Event
What I loved most about the event it how accessible it is. The location is easy to get to and parking is just steps away from the entrance. You’re immersed from the moment you arrive into the Native American culture. Dancers in their amazing array of colors surround you as you wait for the event to begin and all throughout the day. I would highly recommend planning your next vacation to Cody to coincide with the Plains Indian Museum Powwow.
Plains Indian Museum Powwow – What to Know
Visitors are welcome to bring chairs or blankets for our outdoor grass amphitheater, but no pets. Need travel and lodging information? Contact the Cody Chamber of Commerce. For questions about visiting the Buffalo Bill Historical Center e-mail Nancy McClure or call 307.578.4102.