Gilbert’s Civic Center grounds are blessed and ready for the town’s first Arizona Native American Pow Wow and Gathering that begins today.
The event is one its founders hope will draw thousands of spectators to learn about American Indian culture — and eventually vie for a title as the biggest powwow in the nation.
The Gathering of Nations in New Mexico is now the largest, but the Gilbert event will use the same master of events, Dennis Bowen of Tuba City.
As many as 300 dancers from throughout the nation will share their traditions and compete for $18,000 in prizes. And from 80 to 150 vendors will sell American Indian crafts, artwork and food.
Founder Dewey Hopper, a former Arizona and California weather forecaster now living in Scottsdale, said he anticipates 20,000 to 30,000 people for the three-day event.
Hopper said it will also be an event to reach out to and support the state’s American Indians.
Several Indian youth groups will be earning money working food booths and cleaning up, Hopper said.
And, health care organizations including the Arizona Diabetes Association and Arizona Kidney Foundation will offer information about the growing incidence of diabetes in Indian communities.
Co-coordinator Delores Taylor, of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, said the goal is to share the talent of American Indians and to raise awareness on statewide health concerns.
When: 4 to 11 p.m. today with gourd dancing and dance contests; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday with Intertribal Bird Singers and Yellowbird dancers, gourd dancing, dance contests, comedian Drew Lacapa and Hopi dancers; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with gourd dancing, final dances, winners announced
Where: Civic Center grounds, southeast corner of Warner and Gilbert roads (50 E. Civic Center Drive)