My Sons List of Top 5 Pow-Wows In the United States

    My Sons List of Top 5 Pow-Wows In the United States


    By Kimberly Dijkstra

    More than just a festival, a pow-wow is a powerful event where multiple generations of multiple groups of indigenous people gather to share their cultural traditions. Typically, there are displays of Native American dancing and singing, authentic food to enjoy, and a marketplace full of handmade items for sale. Pow-wows forge a sense of community among the participating tribes and offer the opportunity to honor ancestors and practice spiritual healing. 

    All are invited to take part in the special events. Here are the top five pow-wows around the United States.

    Gathering of Nations

    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    The largest pow-wow in the country, the Gathering of Nations brings together more than 500 tribes from the US and more than 200 tribes from Canada. The April event grew from humble beginnings 39 years ago to filling the entire New Mexico State Fairgrounds space in Expo, NM. 

    Some have said, “there is a magic about the gathering,” which lasts three days and features Miss Indian World, a prestigious pageant for young indigenous women. In addition, the event includes competitive Native American singing and dancing, the Indian Traders Market with more than 400 arts & crafts vendors, the Native Food Court, the Horse & Rider Regalia Parade, Teepee Village and more. 

    Mahkato Wacipi

    Mankato, Minnesota

    Held every September, the Mahkato Wacipi has music, dance, storytelling, games, sacred ceremonies, and more. Wacipi means “they dance” in Dakota and Mahkato is the name of the land where three rivers meet in Mankato, Minnesota.

    The pow-wow, which takes place in Dakota Wokisuye Makoce (Land of Memories Park), honors the 38 Dakota warriors who were executed at the end of the 1862 US-Dakota Conflict. Mahkato Wacipi is dedicated to healing through the preservation and sharing of Dakota history and culture.

    Thunderbird Intertribal PowWow

    Queens, New York

    A three-day event in November, the Thunderbird Intertribal PowWow offers a number of activities – intertribal dancing, a dance contest, storytelling, traditional drums and singers, authentic handicrafts, art exhibits, and demonstrations. 

    Held at the Queens County Farm for the past 35 years, the pow-wow believes in sharing American-Indian cultures, establishing strong bonds, and teaching the importance of American-Indian traditions to future generations. The Thunderbird Intertribal Council also wishes to demonstrate to all people that native culture and traditions remain strong and vibrant.

    Denver March Powwow

    Denver, Colorado

    For three days every March, thousands gather for the Annual Denver March Powwow. Native people come together to sing and dance and honor the heritage their ancestors have passed down. 

    The major social occasion begins with the Grand Entry, a procession of drum groups, flag carriers, and a victory dance. Different tribes share their traditional dances and legends, and contests are held for different categories of dances. The entire event is a magnificent display of color, motion and sound.

    Native American Indian Association Of Tennessee Powwow

    Nashville, Tennessee

    For more than 40 years, the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee has held an annual NAIA Education Pow Wow & Arts Exhibition. The three-day October event in Nashville features dance competitions with Native American dancers in traditional regalia. In addition to performers, artists and craftspeople display their vibrant wares.

    The pageantry of the pow-wow serves to share Indian culture and highlight the history of Native American peoples in Tennessee. As a non-profit, the NAIA represents many tribes and works to decrease illiteracy, expand employment, and improve a number of services for the Indian population.

    Want to know more? is a great resource for all things pow-wow. For 25 years, the website has been a top destination to discover Native American cultural events near you.


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