After successful 1st year... Powwow grows some more

       In its second year, the Powwow at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site Sept. 24 had more tribes, more dancers, more vendors and a bigger crowd than the first-time effort in 2010.

Raul Figueroa, a Pueblo resident and military veteran, celebrates his Assiniboine Sioux heritage Sept. 24 at the second annual Powwow at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. He was one of dozens of dancers from about 30 tribes that participated in the event.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “I've gotten calls that it was absolutely wonderful,” said Jim Ramirez, who coordinated the event through the nonprofit Colorado Springs Indian Center and other planning partners. “It far exceeded our expectations, not only with the turnout, but it just seemed like such a blessed event.”
       Located on the hayfield near the Rock Ledge House, the event featured different dances by members of participating tribes, with two drum groups taking turns. Ringing the circular dance area were crowds of spectators, some in pre-set bleachers, others in sling chairs they brought, others just sitting or standing. There were also more than 30 vendors, selling arts, crafts or food and drink.
       After last year's turnout (2,500 attendance and about 15 tribes), Ramirez and other organizers had been so pleased that they mulled the idea of making the Rock Ledge Powwow a multiday event, as a once-annual Garden of the Gods powwow had been until it ended in the late 1970s . So, what are organizers thinking after seeing 3,700 come through the gate and about 30 tribes taking part this year? “We're getting a lot more feedback from the community, asking for a two-day or multiday event,” Ramirez said. “We will seriously consider it this time with our board.”
       Along with the Westside-based Indian Center, the board mainly consists of representatives from Rock Ledge Ranch and the One Nation Walking charity, he explained.
       Although there are a number of other powwows around the country, not many are in such an attractive natural setting as Rock Ledge, which probably helps with its appeal, Ramirez added. And, a multiday event might help bring tribes from farther away, he agreed. Most participants this year and last were from Colorado. One other factor that needs to be considered is that multiday powwows typically focus on competitive dancing, and Ramirez thinks one of the pleasant aspects of the Rock Ledge event is its noncompetitiveness.
       The Rock Ledge Powwow is a fundraiser for both the ranch and the Indian Center, with three-fourths of the gate income going to the ranch and one-fourth to the center; the center also gets to keep vendor fees and donations, according to Ron Wright, president of the ranch's Living History Association (LHA). Income proceeds from the Sept. 24 event were not yet tabulated this week, he said.

The Waterbird Singers, led by Andy Cozad (second from left) provided drumming and singing for several of the dances during the Rock Ledge Ranch Powwow Sept. 24. Others in the Denver-area group are (from left) Dave Stonerock, John Cozad and Ken Little. This was the second annual Powwow at the ranch, with twice as many tribes participating this year and attendance up about 1,200 from last year's 2,500.
Westside Pioneer photo

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