Photos: The 2017 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow

Thosh Collins Just outside the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, a sign reading “North America’s Largest pow wow” welcomes visitors to the new Gathering of Nations pow wow grounds.

Thousands of dancers, drummers and spectators traveled to Albuquerque to attend the 2017 Gathering of Nations

On April 28th and 29th, the sounds of jingles and drums could be heard loud and clear in Albuquerque, while pow wow goers experienced North America’s largest pow wow, the Gathering of Nations. This year, Gathering of Nations organizers moved the event from the University of New Mexico’s arena, “The Pit,” to the Tingley Coliseum: a multi-purpose arena known for hosting rodeos and other large events.

The new venue is much smaller than the old, which led many to wonder whether the already-crowded contest pow wow would be too congested. However, attendance was strong but not overbearing. The pow wow was full and lively as usual.

Thousands of dancers, drummers and spectators traveled to Albuquerque from indigenous territories all over the world to include northernmost Canada to southernmost Mexico and beyond.

It was cold in New Mexico this year for the Gathering of Nations. For the entire weekend, the rain poured, winds blew, and even a little snow fell. But that didn’t stop the world-class dance contests, the parade of pow wow princesses from reservations far and wide, or the exchange of beautiful beadwork and other indigenous art at the vendor booths.

The Miss Indian World pageant took place on Gathering grounds, this year drawing 23 contestants from many nations and backgrounds. Raven Swamp, Mohawk from Kahnawake, Quebec, took home the title.

Over the course of the 2017-2018 pow wow season, Ms. Swamp will serve as a cultural ambassador representing indigenous people and will travel worldwide sharing her message. Danielle Ta’sheena Finn of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe held the title last year.

The photos here are by Thosh Collins (Onk Akimel O’Odham, Wa-Zha-Zhi, Haudenosaunee), who traveled from his home in Salt River, Arizona to Albuquerque this year to capture the sights of the Gathering of Nations.

Thosh Collins Flag bearers and veterans carry a headdress during the honor songs at the Gathering of Nations pow wow.

Thosh Collins Thousands of recording devices from iPhones to iPads lit up the crowd while onlookers and participants alike seek to capture the beauty of the Gathering of Nations pow wow.

Thosh Collins A woman looks on at the marvel of Grand Entry while she prepares to dance.

Thosh Collins An elder dances with a staff and headdress – signs of having earned honor and respect over the course of his life – during the Gathering of Nations Grand Entry on Saturday evening.

Thosh Collins A man considers purchasing a beaded lanyard at one of hundreds of vendor booths which were set up in heated tents just outside the arena.

Thosh Collins Hundreds of dancers and drummers look toward the announcer’s booth while an honor song is sung for veterans after the Gathering of Nations’ Grand Entry.

Thosh Collins A dancer secures his roach while preparing for Gathering of Nations’ Grand Entry.

Thosh Collins Ardell Scalplock from Siksika, Alberta stops to smile for a photo while walking the floor just before Friday evening’s Gathering of nations’ Grand Entry.