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United Tribes International Powwow returning after 2020 cancellation

United Tribes International Powwow returning after 2020 cancellation

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Anthony Hernandez, of Bismarck, dances in the men's traditional competition at the United Tribes International Powwow on Sept. 7, 2019.

The United Tribes Technical College International Powwow and associated events will return late this summer after a year's hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Tribal Leaders Summit that's traditionally held at the Bismarck Event Center before the outdoor powwow has been called off a second year.

"Mainly because it's an indoor event, and a lot of national conferences and things haven't taken off just yet," college spokesman Brent Kleinjan said. "We need good attendance at the events to make them financially viable. We decided just to wait a year on that one.

"The powwow being an outdoor event, we have quite a bit of space," he said.

This year's powwow will be the weekend of Sept. 10-12, starting with the grand entry Friday night and continuing through Sunday. Other details are still being worked out, according to Kleinjan.

Associated events will include Powwow Youth Day that Friday, a golf tournament Friday, a three-day softball tournament and a three-day youth basketball tournament beginning Friday, and the Powwow Thunderbird Run on Saturday.

The powwow put on by the five American Indian tribes in North Dakota typically brings about 10,000 people to Bismarck and boosts the area economy by more than $4 million, according to the college. It attracts dancers from dozens of tribes across the U.S. and Canada and awards more than $100,000 in prize money. It’s considered one of the top powwows in the nation. United Tribes uses proceeds to fund student scholarships.

"It's a big weekend for Bismarck-Mandan; all those people coming in is important for the area economy," Kleinjan said. "As well as cultural importance, for tribes to gather and celebrate their cultural heritage."

Last year's powwow was canceled amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic. It would have been the 51st annual event. The 50th anniversary powwow in 2019 also was disrupted, by bad weather, but it was still held. It was moved from Lone Star Arena at the college to the Event Center.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or


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