(Cover Picture credit goes to Feike Van Dijk if possible)
With one more day left, it has been another success year for Wyoming's Largest Powwow; an event held annually here at the grass covered arena upon the Reservation in Fort Washakie.
A great social gathering to see and meet friends, ones that are not particularly seen every day. Sometimes years have gone by before bonds are rekindled.
Food, socializing, dance competitions, and money making are big on the agenda of a major powwow.
Celebrities can even be found like Benny who is known across Indian country for his flavored lemonade, brick of fries, and Big Indian Cheesesteak. This year was special though, because Benny will soon be leaving the family business to his two children, Michelle and Larry Benson. I had the opportunity to sit down in Benny's Travelling Powwow Motor Home to Interview him, where inside he was making his own special meal. Benny spoke of how he started in the concession business, "I started out at 16 years old," he said, "me and my brother Mike who I was very close with, he was my business partner. We had a dream of leaving Pine Ridge Reservation, and together we followed that dream." A brother who passed away, but left memories that were still fresh within Benny's mind. A heart full of love, I asked Benny what's next for him. He said, "I just want to spend my life with a decent woman who knows the characteristics of hard work."
Outside the arena, law enforcement actively worked to keep everyone safe, the drug and alcohol incidents to a bare minimum, and could even be found handing out glow sticks like Wyoming Highway State Trooper Henry and BIA Officer Jeremy.
A church organization from Sheridan was found giving out Bibles, balloons, and DVDs. "We've even prayed with over 500 people thus far," said Third Day Ministry worker Barry Moen.
North Bear Drum Group were found holding up their hit CD wanting to share their recorded creation with fans, new listeners, and even powwow trail regulars.
Sponsored by AT&T, Fort Washakie Librarian Robin Levin was organizing and accumulating stories from students from the 8th to 12th grade. The stories were of this recent past week's events from The Shoshone Reunion to the Powwow using students for gaining interest in the journalist modality and through teacher Mike Read.
"Audio CDs will be distributed for free to those who are interested in this year's reunion and powwow stories," Levin said, "we collected these stories with the main objective here, to encourage students to graduate and go into college to become successful individuals." The audio CDs will be ready later this year.
A great reminder that powwows are not only about the beautiful dancers, but also about reconnecting with cherished friends, buying colorful handcrafted bead and silver work, food, Indian hand gaming, Indian Relay Racing, including, but not limited to, the enjoyment of an event that will last within memories for years and years.
Each year just keeps getting bigger and better with over 700 dancers and 15 total drum groups, the 57th Annual Eastern Shoshone Indians Powwow is and was an event, definitely, not to miss.