THE GATHERING OF NATIONS—North America’s largest powwow—is traditionally held in spring. This year, the season of rebirth gives the event special meaning. After two years of pandemic-related hiatus, the 39th annual gathering returns to Albuquerque’s Expo New Mexico April 28–30. With a full lineup of singing and dancing competitions, as well as regalia parades and a traders’ market, the powwow is billed as a “special all-Native nations reunion.”
The centerpiece of the Gathering of Nations is the Miss Indian World pageant, where Indigenous women ages 18–25 vie to serve as a goodwill ambassador to Native American, Indigenous, and First Nations cultures. The competition, which centers on deep cultural knowledge and skills, boasts a storied sorority of winners that includes Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo). For the inside scoop on the pageant, we spoke with Miss Indian World 2013 Kansas K. Begaye, of the Navajo Nation, a recording artist and inspirational speaker from Waterflow.
“You’re not competing against everybody else.” As pageant organizers like to say, “You’re actually competing against yourself.” Each tribal representative must display a mastery of knowledge about her culture. “The essence of who you are, the true self, really does come out over those five days,” Begaye says.
The pageant is a dry run for the duties of the crown. For example, the public speaking part helps when presenting in front of big crowds about your culture and yourself. The personal-interview portion will come in handy for working with the media. “You’re shown the steps and put in the shoes of Miss Indian World as you go through the pageant,” she says.
This year is more important than ever. “Coming back to the Gathering of Nations is a sign of hope, of healing for our people,” Begaye says. “The Navajo Nation has lost so many people these past few years. You meet your relatives once again, listen to some really
good music, see people dance in their regalia, remember those we lost. To bring those blessings back into circle again is phenomenal.”
The 39th Annual Gathering of Nations Pow Wow
April 28 – 30
$15–$80; Expo New Mexico, Tingley Coliseum; 300 San Pedro Dr. NE, Albuquerque
The Las Cruces Space Festival takes off this April. Photograph courtesy of Visit Las Cruces.
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April 7 – 10
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April 7 – 10
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