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Inter-tribal Veterans Pow Wow to honor culture, service Oct. 26-27

In historical times, a powwow was a gathering to give thanks for a successful hunt or harvest. When Angel and Frank Joe Bernard started the Las Vegas Inter-tribal Veterans Pow Wow in 2004, their goal was simply to continue the traditional ways of their ancestors and to honor all military personnel for their service.

After taking a one-year hiatus, the ninth annual Las Vegas Inter-tribal Veterans Pow Wow “Honoring Our Veterans” is scheduled to return Oct. 26 and 27 at Sunset Park’s Area 1, 2601 E. Sunset Road.

“The cost of freedom is in billions of dollars, yet the cost given for our freedom by our fighting men and women is in giving of their blood, sweat and tears, while others paid the ultimate price,” said Regina Brady, president of the Inter-tribal Veterans Pow Wow. “As a community, the time has come to honor and pay special tribute to all military and treasure our veterans.”

Since the first powwow, dancers from across the United States, Mexico and South America have attended and passed on their tribe’s traditional ways of dancing.

Military personnel are honored with the Warriors Medal of Valor. Brady said the medal was designed by Marshall Tall Eagle Serna of the Native American First Nations to pay tribute and honor to all veterans and military personnel at the powwow during the Grand Entry ceremony.

Thomas Flores, board member of Native American Community Services, said each year they hand out approximately 300 medals at the powwow. He added that there will be between 15 to 20 different tribes present.

“We may not agree with the politics of our treatment, but without the help of our military personnel and the Native Americans, we would not have our country as we have it,” Flores said.

One of the more important aspects of the powwow is to help mend the bridges between Native Americans and non-natives through cultural education.

“People can expect to learn about Native American history and see lot of vibrant culture at the event,” said volunteer Carleen May. “Food vendors will be there selling traditional fry bread topped with honey, cinnamon and powdered sugar, or different meats. It is sinful.”

May and her family have been volunteers at the powwow since 2007, when they helped with the raffle booth.

“The Native American culture is a very beautiful and interesting culture,” May said. “Although I am not Native American, I love attending the powwows because they have what a lot of people take for granted — families.”

The blessing of the circle prior to dancing, known as the Gourd Dance, is scheduled for 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Oct. 26 and 11 a.m. Oct. 27.

May said the Gourd Dance is the blessing of the ground that welcomes Native American ancestors to join in the festivities.

After the blessing, people are not allowed to enter the sacred circle. However, there will be a point when the public will be invited to interact with the Native American dancers.

“When elders dance, they show their own quiet strength with everything that they’ve endured in their lifetime,” May said. “When the tiny tots dance, you can see the new generation learning the ways of their ancestors. It’s nice seeing the kids and teenagers appreciate what their ancestors have done and struggles that they have gone through to preserve the history of their culture.”

On the outskirts of the circle, vendors will be selling Native American art, clothing and crafts. May said there will be vendors selling silver jewelry and Kachina dolls.

The nonprofit powwow will feature dancers performing in traditional outfits, known as regalia, dancing to the beat of native drums and native singers.

Photography is permitted. However, organizers advise photographers to ask for dancers’ permission first. Many dancers regard their traditional dress as sacred and do not allow photos to be taken.

“If people want to take photos of the dancers, they must always ask,” May said. “Native Americans believe that if you take their photo, their souls will be captured.”

May expects 2,000 to 3,000 people to attend the event.

“The Native American culture is all centered on respecting Mother Earth,” May said. “She provides us with everything that we need. The powwow is all about respect and appreciation.”

The Las Vegas Inter-tribal Veterans Pow Wow “Honoring Our Veterans” is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 26 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27. Opening ceremonies are scheduled to begin at noon.

Admission is $5 per person, $3 for seniors, $10 per family and free for all military personnel with military ID. Alcohol, drugs and pets are not permitted.

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at or 702-383-4686.