Father’s Day Powwow a living lesson in culture
June 16, 2007
For Wesley Dick and his family, the annual Father’s Day Powwow acts as many different things bound together in one event.
His mom attended the Stewart Indian School, he has friends he reconnects with at the powwow and it gives his children a chance to practice their dancing skills.
“It’s really a family environment. One of the main things we try to do is to keep the songs and dances alive today,” said Dick, a member of the Northern Paiute tribe from Fallon.
The three-day powwow is held on the grounds that formerly housed the Stewart school.
The Stewart boarding school was established in 1890 and operated until 1980. The museum housed in the building closed in 2001.
Dick said his family travels through several states attending powwows, reaching more than 20 of the gatherings a year. He also makes drums, tans hides and makes moccasins for children and adults.
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“One of my favorites is when my kids use my hides to dance for the people,” Dick said. “I teach them that they are dancing for the people. For the disabled and the elders and those who want to dance and can’t.”
Six-year-old Britney Star Light has been attending powwows since before she could walk and began dancing in them as soon as she learned how.
“My favorite part is when you spin, because it’s fun to do that,” Britney said.
Cheryl Williams said one of the most important lessons of the powwow is to pass on traditions.
“It’s who we are as native people. It’s so important for us to pass on to our children what we know,” Williams said.
The powwow was held for many years in the first part of the century before lapsing. It was revived four years ago as a fundraiser to restore the museum and cultural center located at the old school.
“This used to be the largest powwow in Northern Nevada and it started to dwindle, but we are hearing that it’s growing again and people are excited about that,” said Sherry Rupert, coordinator for the Nevada Indian Commission.
The powwow featured more than 170 dancers, almost 50 vendors and more than 4,000 in attendance, up significantly from previous years.
“Our whole purpose is to restore the cultural center. By increasing our numbers we are getting the word out about what we are doing here,” Rupert said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.