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The 47th American Indian Council Powwow at MSU brings people together to celebrate culture



Montana – The Brick Breeden Fieldhouse at Montana State University was converted into a jam-packed dance hall on Saturday as tribes from all around Montana and beyond gathered to celebrate the 47th annual American Indian Council Powwow.

At noon, the spectacular entrance began. Following a drum call, dancers of all ages lined up at the corner of the arena and proceeded to circle the stage in a systematic fashion. The American flag, the flags of Montana’s several tribes, and two eagle staffs were all followed by them.

“As you witness these different styles that come in this afternoon, we’re sharing the social part of these dances,” said Master of Ceremony Francis Sherwood, who is Arikara, Hidatsa, and Navajo and hails from Colorado, according to an MSU news release.

“These dances have their ceremonial dances that go with them, that stay within the tribes that they originated from,” he told the crowd of spectators, who filled the stands. As they watched, people swayed to the rhythm set by the host drum group ShowTime.

The American Indian Council at MSU hosts one of the biggest powwows in the state every year. Three grand entries, numerous dance and drum competitions, and a variety of artisan works were all included in this year’s cultural extravaganza.

A fun race with 5K, mile, and walking categories was organized on Saturday to complement the weekend of music and dance. The powwow coincided with the 2023 American Indian Alumni Luncheon as well as the yearly MSU Powwow Basketball Competition.

To keep the powwow free, the MSU American Indian Council gathers cash. Anyone can go to to learn more. Members of the student group carried the flags of Montana’s indigenous nations during the first grand entry on Saturday.

“These young people — they come from their home fires, among their own nations, and they come here to the university system and they buddy up with other native kids just like them,” said Master of Ceremony Don Racine, who is an enrolled member of the Aaniiih (White Clay) Tribe.

“They put their minds together and their hearts together, and this wonderful celebration is one of the things that these young people are able to make happen,” he said. Racine hails from Fort Belknap, according to the university.

Lisa Perry, an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and co-advisor to the MSU American Indian Council, said this is her 11th year at the school and she has participated in nearly every powwow since she arrived.

“It’s getting better and better every year, and I think part of that is because of our student leadership,” she said. “I want to acknowledge our students and all of their hard work — just putting in the hours, the planning, doing all the nitty gritty work.”


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