ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A thunderous, rhythmic roar of jingling bells and beating drums rumbled through University of New Mexico Arena on Friday as hundreds of Native American and indigenous dancers gathered for the start of powwow season.
The three-day Gathering of Nations, North America’s largest powwow, drew more than 1,500 competitive dancers and tens of thousands of spectators from across the U.S. and parts of Canada and Mexico.
The festivities kicked off with dancers from Saskatchewan and a drum group from Quebec in acknowledgement of the “Idle No More” movement that is sweeping across Indian Country.
“It just brings the people together, just to reassure that we all need to stick together for the purpose and for the cause, that we can’t forget who we are,” said Larry Yazzie, one of the powwow’s masters of ceremonies.
Idle No More has garnered a worldwide following through social media while reopening constitutional issues involving the relationship between the federal government and Native communities in the U.S. and Canada. The movement began after indigenous groups protested a Canadian proposal that they said would threaten their self-governance and control of traditional land bases.