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Powwow brings Indigenous arts, ceremonies to Heber City

Dancers perform at a recent powwow hosted by Cultural Fire Events in Moab.
Cultural Fire Events, Inc.
Dancers perform at a recent powwow hosted by Cultural Fire Events in Moab.

A powwow coming up in the Heber Valley will feature cultures and events with Utah’s eight Indigenous tribes and others from around North America. 

It’s not just your average convention. The Intermountain Championships Powwow aims to bring dancers, singers and the general public together in Heber City.

“A powwow is a planned social gathering, wherein many different Indigenous tribes come together and share in their songs and their dances and their beautiful regalia and food and arts and crafts, jewelry,” Cultural Fire events partnerships coordinator Melāni Glass said. “So, once you get there, you'll feel a very spirited, lively event and a deep heartbeat, if you will, as you enter. The drums alone will just kind of reverberate like through the being.”

It’s happening Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and June 4 at River’s Edge Campground in Heber City, just south of the Jordanelle Reservoir.

Glass said the mission of her nonprofit and the events it hosts is to bring more native events into areas that haven’t had much exposure. That entails connecting elders to youth and talents and art showcases.

Glass said some performances are more than shows.

“It's competitive,” she said. “Some people make their livelihood traveling from powwow to powwow. That's how they make money. But, it's also a very loving [occasion to] come and meet and gather with old and new friends. It's more that energy than competitions.”

Cultural Fire Events formed recently. Even before it became an official 501(c)-3, organizers hosted two other powwows in Moab. Executive Director Jacob Crane said it’s helped expand local economies beyond localized tribes, especially since the pandemic prohibited ceremonies and gatherings.

Such events widen the economic reach of Indigenous communities. Vendors will bring wares and food to the early-June event in Heber.

Crane invites locals to support the entrepreneurs and artisans, as support local hotels and restaurants over the weekend.

“That was one of the main reasons why, is because we wanted to create a place where arts and crafts vendors, food vendors from the reservation can come and participate and take dollars from a community like Heber back to the reservation," Crane said. “So, we're just creating a platform for them to, you know, to hunt the buffalo, and then now it's their job to take the meat back to their home fires.”

Glass expects thousands to turnout. Tickets are on sale now. Vendors can still get a spot through end of day Monday, May 15.

She also hopes to recruit more volunteers. Positions are open for all abilities and interests. Anyone interested can email melani@culturalfireevents.org.

More information about Cultural Fire Events is available on the organization’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

For tickets or to register as a vendor, email culturalfireevents@gmail.com.

Glass and Crane will share more information on KPCW's Local News Hour during a live interview Tuesday, May 30, at 8:30 a.m.