Powwow returns after 32 years
Event planned Sept. 25 at Rock Ledge Ranch

       A regional Indian powwow, lasting three days and attracting dancers and tribes from around the country, was once a traditional event at the Garden of the Gods.
       It ended in 1978, but a one-day version is making a comeback Saturday, Sept. 25. The new event will be at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site (technically part of the Garden) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Indian dancers mingle with spectators during the 2006 First Nations event at Rock Ledge Ranch.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Admission is $6, with discounts for seniors and children.
       Lead organizer Jim (Blackwolf) Ramirez, a member of the boards of Rock Ledge's Living History Association (LHA) and the Westside-based Indian Center, said the Rock Ledge Powwow will offer Indian dances and ceremonies, educational opportunities, children's activities and Indian vendors (including food and art).
       In addition, numerous area non-profit organizations have been invited to set up booths. These include entities in the categories of colleges, health care, government, businesses and ethnic groups, said Ramirez, who is also a member of the city's Diversity Forum.
       “It's evolved into a wonderful process,” he said. “I think it's very positive. We're getting a great response.”
       At least eight tribes should be on hand, with up to 1,000 people expected, according to LHA President Ron Wright.
       The powwow is a fundraiser, with the ranch receiving the gate receipts and the Indian groups sharing other proceeds, Wright said. In that regard, Ramirez happily reported that he's had good luck so far in lining up sponsors and partners, which improves the possibilities of putting on a second annual event next year.
       The powwow will essentially replace First Nations Day, a similar (but smaller) get-together which had been held each year since 2001 at Rock Ledge on a Saturday in October around Columbus Day. Eugene (Redhawk) Orner, the originator of First Nations and an LHA board member, will be master of ceremonies for the powwow.
       “First Nations went pretty well, but we felt it was time to divorce it from Columbus Day,” said Orner. Also, recalling the rain and cold at the last two First Nations events, “we moved it up in hopes of better weather.”
       In '78, the city disallowed powwows at the Garden - in an area a little north of Rock Ledge - after complaints about noise (many participants camped out in the area north of Pleasant Valley) and “a few incidents with Indians getting tipsy in the community,” Orner said.
       Those three-day gatherings, which featured competitive dancing groups from numerous tribes and prize money exceeding $10,000, were well attended, with many thousands of spectators, he said. Bleachers from Coronado High School would be dismantled, brought down and erected at the site. A temporary stoplight would be set up at 30th Street and Gateway Road. Fort Carson would bring stoves, cooks and tents, as well as water trucks, he said.
       From 1978 until about 2000, local American Indian groups used various other locations for the annual powwow, but it never was quite the same, Orner recalled. And then its main organizer, the Lone Feather Council, ran into money issues. “That was the end of powwows in the area,” he said.
       But with the unifying influence of the Indian Center (whose offices are at Trinity Church off 20th Street), which started about two years ago, we're gradually getting back to doing powwows again,” Orner reported.
       Unlike the old Garden powwows, this one will have non-competitive dancing and be more of a “traditional powwow, based around unity and a celebration of the native community,” he said. But if it goes well, “we might expand it into a three-day affair again,” thus making it an even more effective fundraiser.

Westside Pioneer article