Celebrate Native American culture and tradition at the 11th annual Colorado Springs Native American Intertribal Powwow. This one-day event brings together families and friends from all cultures to learn and explore.

“When you come into our powwow, the first thing that will hit you is the beat of the drum — the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Then you’ll get closer to the dance circle, where you’ll see people in different regalia dancing to traditional dances their elders and ancestors danced to many years ago,” says Al Walter, co-founder of the Native American Intertribal Powwow.

Both Southern and Northern drums and songs will be played, as native nations from across the country come together to perform. The dance circle is blessed before the ceremonies by a spiritual adviser, and afterward only natives can enter and dance unless invited.

“It’s a community thing. We’re just bringing in everybody to not only be able to provide information, but just to enjoy the day,” Walter says.

The powwow Saturday is designed to be an interactive educational and social experience. Children can enjoy learning to build their own native toys such as corn husk dolls in the kids’ activity area. In the Teaching Lodge, you can touch and interact with artifacts and learn how people lived in our state before it was a state.

Walter says, “The thing that I really felt good about last year was watching families come up to a native dancer in their full regalia and be able to interact and ask questions and have pictures taken.”

The nations are also presenting several animal conservation booths. HawkQuest will be there with their birds, teaching about their work rehabilitating raptor habitats and communities. An ambassador wolf will also be there with the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Center for photos and education.

“Basically it’s a potpourri of all types of activities, events, vendors that are all native related,” Walter says.

Proceeds from the powwow benefit One Nation Walking Together, an organization dedicated to helping Native Americans in underserved reservation communities throughout the country with personalized donations and aid.

Walter hopes this event will bring several communities together and inspire them to get involved.

“I think it’s very important for people to come in with an open mind and to participate. Be part of the event Don’t just be an observer, that’s the whole purpose of this. It opens up a whole new world of understanding for people to get totally involved with, especially the young kids.”

Kate Powell, The Gazette, kate.powell@gazette.com

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