‘Moccasin telegraph’ spreading word for Sept. 25 Rock Ledge powwow

       The first American Indian powwow at the Garden of the Gods in 32 years will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.
       Officially titled the “First Annual Garden of the Gods Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site Traditional Powwow,” the event is expected to include tribal representation from Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and possibly other states.
       The location will be inside Rock Ledge Ranch, with parking in the large lot next to it, off Gateway Road at 30th Street. Admission is $6 for adults, with discounts for younger children and seniors.
       “The Native Americans keep a kind of moccasin telegraph,” said Westside resident Eugene (Redhawk) Orner, a long-time area Indian leader who will serve as master of ceremonies. “They know we're having our first powwow since 1978, and they're excited about it.”
       The timing has also proven favorable. There is a “circuit” of powwows around the country; “we lucked out in a way to have it in September,” Orner said. “The date has fallen between the other powwows. So we're right on track.”
       The powwow comeback has resulted from “native and non-native organizations in the community, sharing ideas, planning and resources,” according to a statement by the Colorado Springs Indian Center (CSIC) in a program published ahead of the event. “The partnership included: White Bison, Inc., Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site and Living History Association (LHA), One Nation Walking Together, Project Light House Native Ministry, and the Pueblo Friendship Association Pow-wow. Together this group formed the Multination Powwow Coalit-ion to sponsor the First Annual Garden of the Gods Rock Ledge Ranch Powwow.”
       The event schedule calls for a Gourd Dance between 10 a.m. and noon. According to the advance program, “the dance is usually held in sets, with four songs to a set. The purpose of the Gourd dance is to prepare the dance arena by 'cleansing' it prior to the actual ritual of the powwow or dance.”
       At noon will be the Grand Entry of all the tribes, the schedule shows. Other activities have no set times, but will include different speakers and any of 15 types of dances, according to the schedule. The actual number of groups and/or tribes on hand actually probably won't be known until the event itself, but Orner estimated that the number of dancers will be around 50 to 60. “We're getting quite a bit of response,” he said.
       Unlike the previous, annual, three-day Garden of the Gods powwows, the dancing this year will be non-competitive. The event's organizing committee “wants everyone to go home from the powwow feeling good about dancing and participating,” the program states. “For this reason, there are no contests at this powwow. All the dancers, singers, spectators and other participants attend this powwow to celebrate the Native American Culture. They don't attend for money. They attend for the pleasure and enjoyment of dancing with their families and friends. They dance with their children and pass on the ways of the circle.”
       Throughout the event, other activities will be going on, including presentations by representatives of the Bent's Fort and Sand Creek Massacre national historic sites, and a variety of American Indian craft and food vendors. According to Jim Ramirez, a member of CSIC, the LHA and the city's Diversity Forum, there will also be booths representing other cultural groups in the area.
       The event is intended as a fundraiser for the ranch and the Indian groups.

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