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Culture celebrated

Colorful Standing Arrow Powow held in Elmo

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ELMO – Amidst the sensory overload of rhythmic beating drums and dancers dressed in colorful regalia, it becomes very clear why the Ksanka Standing Arrow Powwow is considered one of the favorites by locals and this year’s attendance proved that once again.

An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 spectators and participants from around Montana, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Canada gathered at the Elmo Powwow Grounds for the 41st annual three-day powwow, which wrapped up on Sunday afternoon. 

Integral in the smooth operation of this year’s powwow were the efforts of emcee Mike Sanchez. 

Sanchez, emcee for the last three Standing Arrow Powwows, sets the flow and tempo of the powwow. His duties entail keeping the powwow rolling by announcing and directing the singers, drummers and dancers. 

“I enjoy this powwow. I feel close to home when I emcee this powwow, ” Sanchez said. “It’s part of my home territory (and) one of the many bands of my nation.”

Throughout the weekend, traditional songs were performed in drum circles as dancers in full regalia filled the circle with a whirlwind of color. 

Dancers were split into categories based on age. From the tiny tots category for those younger than seven all the way up to the golden age category for those over 60, all participants had an opportunity to dance.

In addition to drumming and dancing, other activities included coed softball, youth basketball and stick game tournaments.

Some two dozen vendors offered a wide variety of items including jewelry, fashion, art, crafts and of course food. 

The longest line was routinely at the crowd favorite Indian taco and frybread vendor.

People come to the Standing Arrow Powwow for many reasons: some to participate, embrace and celebrate their heritage, others as spectators to share in that experience. 

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