Powwow Season Is Here and Going Great!

From spring to summer, Native American families travel the country to celebrate and compete in competitions wearing intricate garments assembled across generations.” T. Irvine, The New York Times, July 30, 2022

NOTE: *Photographs and Text by Tailyr Irvine, July 30, 2022

Harmony Kickingwoman showed off her favorite piece of regalia, a diamond back piece made by her father.


Siliye Pete said the love her family has poured into her regalia gives her comfort when she travels across the state to dance.


Siliye said it was “a happy accident” that her nails matched her outfit.


Excerpt: Powwow Season in Full Bloom, By Tailyr Irvine, The New York Times, July 30, 2022

“Siliye Pete, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, wore an outfit that represented not only herself, but also her family and tribe. In addition to hair ties made by her stepmother, her otter skins were a gift from her father, her necklace was made by her mother and her bracelets came from her niece. She held a pink umbrella that matched her sparkling pink acrylic nails. The otter skins wrapped around her braids were tied with pink beaded hair ties, and a pink shawl was draped around her shoulders.

‘Everyone knows pink is my color,’ said Ms. Pete, a 24-year-old teacher. ‘My stepmom made the hair ties, and I made the rest of my outfit to match them. My nails were just a vibe for the summer.’

Thomas Addison, 14, said he has been dancing for as long as he can remember.

Ms. Pete was one of hundreds of dancers attending the 122nd annual Arlee Celebration powwow held over the Fourth of July weekend in Arlee, Mont., a town of fewer than 600 in the valley of the Flathead Reservation, which spans nearly 1.3 million acres of mountainous landscape and rolling hills.

A dragonfly from Cecilia’s very first dance outfit is now sewn onto her purse.

The celebration — a mix of dance and drum competitions, traditional ceremonies and games — serves as a space for multiple tribes to gather to compete, eat traditional foods, meet new babies, and visit with relatives and old friends…Fancy dance outfits for both men and women are known for elaborate ribbon design and bright colors that swirl while they perform footwork with increasing speed, and acrobatic steps and motions based on a double step. Fancy dancers are judged on their knowledge of the dance style and how well they match the quick footwork with the ever-changing beat of the drum…For Rachel Arlee Bowers, 80, an elder whose family the town is named after, seeing the arena full of dancers was healing.

Rachel Arlee Bowers, 80, has been beading since she was 4 years old.

‘Dancing is prayer,’ Ms. Arlee Bowers said. ‘We pray and dance for the people who can’t be there. Those that are sick and those that want to dance but can’t. People like me.’ 

Sitting in a wheelchair in her traditional buckskin dress with her small Chihuahua, Tiny, on her lap, Ms. Arlee Bowers recalled when Native Americans were not allowed to practice their religion and were persecuted for conducting tribal ceremonies. It was not until 1978, when Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, that Native Americans were allowed to exercise their right to traditional ceremonies and celebrations.”

Category: Culture

Native Actor Wes Studi Finally Gets to Kiss Costar in Film!

“In Wes Studi’s potent and pioneering acting career, he has played vengeful warriors, dying prisoners and impassioned resistance leaders. For three decades, he has arrestingly crafted wide-ranging portraits of the Native American experience. But one thing he had never done in a movie is give someone a kiss.” J. Coyle, ICT, July 31, 2022

Famous Native actor Wes Studi


Excerpt: For once, Cherokee actor Wes Studi cast as romantic co-star, By Jake Coyle, ICT, July 31, 2022 

“In ‘A Love Song’ a tender indie drama starring another long-pigeonholed character actor, Dale Dickey,  Studi is for the first time cast as a romantic co-star. Dickey plays a woman camping by a mountain lake awaiting the visit of an old flame.

Studi, the Cherokee actor who masterfully played the defiant Huron warrior Magua in Michael Mann’s ‘The Last of the Mohicans’  and who got his first big break playing the character credited only as the toughest Pawnee in ‘Dances With Wolves’, hasn’t been limited entirely to what he calls leather and feathers roles…But recently, Studi is increasingly getting a chance to play a wider array of characters. 


Native actor Wes Studi

Along with Max Walker-Silverman’s ‘A Love Song,’ which opens in theaters Friday, he’s a recurring, funny guest star on Sterlin Harjo’s “Reservation Dogs,” the second season of which debuts Aug. 3 on Hulu… In person, Studi bears little resemblance to his fiercer screen roles. He’s more like his characters in ‘A Love Song’ and ‘Reservation Dogs.’ Amiable. Quick to laugh. Self-deprecating. A good storyteller.

Actress Dale Dickey in A Love Song

Dale Dickey, the actor of ‘Winter’s Bone’ and ‘Hell or High Water,’ grants she was a little nervous about the romantic moments that neither actor was particularly experienced in. ‘We’ve both played a lot of pretty rough people,’ she said in January during Sundance. ‘But he’s such a kind, sweet, gentle soul. It was our first screen kiss. We both laughed a lot about that. I don’t do leads in films. I do, you know, scary supporting roles that pop in and out with chainsaws and rifles and things’ Dickey says, laughing. ‘I’m like the recurring guest-star kinda thingy. So this was a big leap of faith. I was very nervous and insecure about my face being on screen that much.’

A Love Song

Studi has goals beyond what he ruefully refers to as his first ‘rom-com.’ ‘I’d like to play a lead that takes me from really good to really bad or vice versa, something that has a long arc to it,” says Studi. “I want to continue to do this until I can’t.’

Studi, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife, Maura Dhu, has also seen one of his three children, son Kholan, pursue acting.”


Category: Culture, Films | Tags: ,

The Beauty and Brutality of “War Pony”

“It’s not often you see a coming-of-age story set on a Native American reservation. It’s rarer still to find a Native American story that’s told with such sensitivity as ‘War Pony’. It heads to Pine Ridge – the poorest reservation in the United States – to tell the story of Bill and Matho, two young men who are trapped by the circumstances that surround them.” R. Leston, IGN, May 24, 2022

War Pony. Photograph- Felix Culpa


Excerpt: A gut-wrenching slice of reservation life with a story of false promises and redemption. By Ryan Leston, IGN, May 24, 2022

“The twists and turns of reservation life keep both Bill and the young Matho from living up to their potential – but that’s only half the story.

On the surface, War Pony seems to be a cautionary tale, depicting the young men hustling, dealing drugs, and otherwise sinking into a life of crime. But there’s no judgment here. Instead, War Pony is a story of potential redemption, highlighting just how difficult it is to break out of these patterns.

t’s refreshing to see this tale told with a subtlety and sensitivity that goes unmatched. The filmmakers may not be Native American themselves, but War Pony is far from exploitative.

War Pony | You Tube Clip

Bill (Jojo Bapteise Whiting) is 23 years old, a two-bit hustler with a cheeky smile. But his heart is sort of in the right place – cooking up elaborate (and often ludicrous) plans to get him and his family back on their feet. His latest grasp at The American Dream is a poodle called Beast. If he can get $1000, he can buy the dog, breeding its puppies to sell for thousands. But when you’re down on your luck, it’s never quite that simple.

LaDainian Crazy Thunder & Willi White, War Pony Photographed by Jai Lennard for TheWrap

Matho (LaDainian Crazy Thunder), meanwhile, is only 12 years old. Desperately seeking his father’s approval, he’s already following the same path as Bill. And while the two don’t know each other, they have a lot more in common than they would realize.


scene from War Pony

Both are keen to distance themselves from the Native American ways practiced by those around them, with Bill driving through town blaring hip-hop music from his beat-up old car while others travel around on horseback…War Pony tells a surprisingly personal story of two young men trapped by their circumstances.

War Pony- a scene from the film

Challenging perceptions of life on the poorest Native American reservation, the film highlights the struggles they face while desperately trying to grasp at a better life…with a touch of Native American storytelling, you’re reminded that their roots might just provide them with a way out.”

Category: Culture | Tags:

Election Season is in Full Swing on the Navajo Nation!

The Following is From the website of Navajo Radmilla Cody: GRAMMY Nominee, multiple Native American Award Nominee, Indie Award Winner, NPR’s 50 Great Voices:

Radmilla Cody


“Ethel Branch For Navajo Nation President!”

Ethel Branch

“Looking forward to having our first Diné Asdzáán Navajo Nation President from Harvard University and was the former Attorney General for the Navajo Nation. Shideezhí is more than qualified to lead our Diné Nation as she has shown us what can be done at the grassroots level when she raised 12 million dollars for the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund which provided mutual aid for families on Dinétah at the beginning of the pandemic.  Time to smash patriarchy and bring back the matriarchy to its original place of governance!”  Radmilla Cody, July 2022 


#RestoreBalance #BeTheChange #YéegoEthelBranch

ALSO From Radmilla Cody:

“Ya’at’eeh Abini! We have some new digital items for you! You can download an image and make it your profile picture to show Ethel support! Also share this post so others can do the same. Let our community know we are not afraid of change!”

Vote Ethel Branch for Navajo Nation! #Navajo #Ethelbranch2022 #Restorebeauty #EthelBranch #RestoreBalance #NavajoNation #EthelBranch2022 #diné 

Image 1: Text says: “I voted for Ethel Branch” – features Ethel facing forward smiling from the shoulders up.

Image 2: Text says: “Yéego Ethel” – Features Ethel in a teal shirt and floral scarf facing forward and smiling. The image of her is from the waist up.

Image 3:  Text says: “Ethel Nihił nilį́” (English translation – Ethel is with us) – Features Ethel in a teal shirt and floral scarf facing forward and smiling. The image of her is from the waist up.

Image 4: Text says “I stand with Ethel” – Image shows Ethel facing the left with her hair pulled back dressed traditional.

Image 5:  Text says ” Ethel bá a’díí’ał” (Englsih translation Vote for Ethel) – features Ethel facing forward smiling from the shoulders up.

Image 6:  Text says: Ethel Bił Sézį́” – Image shows Ethel facing the left with her hair pulled back dressed traditional.

Yéego Ethel Branch for Navajo Nation President!”

For more information, to make a donation or purchase t-shirts visit www.ethelbranch.org.


#RestoreBalance #BeTheChange #YéegoEthelBranch

Category: Culture

A Native Cafe Helps the Native Chefs Fight Addiction

Café Gozhóó in Arizona uses the kitchen to teach therapeutic skills to those recovering from substance abuse.” C. Nowell, The Guardian, July 13, 2022

Chef Nephi Craig uses notes in the kitchen to help his staff build their skills and work as a team. Photograph: Ash Ponders/The Guardian

Excerpt: The Indigenous cafe using native cuisine to help its chefs fight addiction. By Cecilia Nowell with photographs by Ash Ponders, The Guardian, July 13, 2022

“Driving along State Route 73 in eastern Arizona, it’s wide open skies and a red rock landscape, dotted with ponderosa pines, juniper bushes, yucca and prickly poppies. Just outside the White Mountain Apache town of Whiteriver, the blue roof of a gas station appears.

David Williams, a chef at Café Gozhóó in Whiteriver, Arizona, works during the lunch rush. The cafe teaches its chefs skills to overcome addiction and to create traditional Indigenous cuisine. Photograph: Ash Ponders/The Guardian

Only, it’s not a gas station anymore. The sign that once listed gas prices now welcomes visitors to Café Gozhóó, a new restaurant celebrating Western Apache cuisine. Inside, executive chef Nephi Craig – who

is White Mountain Apache and Diné, the Navajo word for the Navajo people – slices corn off freshly roasted cobs to make Apache cornbread, a three sisters salad and soup stock…But Café Gozhóó, which opened last October, isn’t just a restaurant. It’s also a vocational training program at the Rainbow Treatment Center, an addiction treatment program operated by the White Mountain Apache tribe since 1976.

Chef Crystal Wahpepah on the power of Indigenous cuisine- ‘Native foods are overlooked’

Craig, who is 10 years sober, is the center’s nutritional recovery program coordinator, and uses the kitchen to teach therapeutic skills – connecting with ancestral foods, stress management, and teamwork – to people recovering from substance abuse… Café Gozhóó is also filling a critical gap in access to care.

Many mainstream recovery programs are located far from Native American communities, and they often lack counselors trained in culturally competent care.

In his own journey to sobriety, Craig said, ‘I would encounter white counselors that would tell me, ‘You’re predisposed to become an alcoholic as a Native.’ But as he got deeper into his own study of recovery he realized, ‘It’s therapy’s dismissal of our legacy of historical trauma.’

The dishes at Café Gozhóó ‘allow people to build a relationship with food’, said chef Nephi Craig. Photograph: Ash Ponders/The Guardian

‘We’re not too far away from that time in history where so many of our food traditions, parenting traditions, ceremonies, agricultural traditions had to be abandoned and almost lost because of so much conflict in the American south-west,’ Craig said.

Café Gozhóó’s mission isn’t only about supporting recovery from substance abuse, but recovery from historical trauma.”

Fashion Faux Pas We (Still) Need to Avoid at a Pow Wow

“At a pow wow, wardrobe choices often depend on your role at the event, but whether you’re dancing, singing or just watching, there are fashion faux pas to avoid.” A. Landry, ICT, July 2022 

Excerpt: 10 Fashion Faux Pas to Avoid at a Pow Wow By Alysa Landry , ICT, [Updated 2018] Original Mar 21, 2015

“Some universal standards apply at all pow wows, regardless of location, weather or purpose. Here are some tips to keep you from committing embarrassing – or offensive – fashion blunders:

Ripped, ragged or sagging pants

Pow wows represent a mixture of the social and the spiritual, said Reno Charette, a women’s traditional dancer and director of American Indian outreach at Montana State University Billings. If you’re not dancing, casual attire is appropriate, but it should fit properly and be in good repair. ‘Our young men go around with their pants hanging low,’ said Charette, who is Crow and Turtle Mountain Chippewa. ‘That’s especially bad when they’re in the drum group and they lean forward.’

Shorts or miniskirts

Showing too much leg is inappropriate for anyone in the arena, including spectators, Charette said. Even in 100-degree weather, Daisy Duke-style shorts or miniskirts should be avoided.

Swimsuits, halter tops or bikini tops

Regardless of where they are in the arena, women should avoid tight clothing or anything that shows cleavage, Charette said. That includes halter tops, bikini tops and spaghetti straps… ‘We know it’s hot, but please cover up,’ she said.

Bare feet

Wearing shoes isn’t just a fashion statement, but also a safety precaution, Charette said. She recommends spectators wear closed-toed shoes to keep feet clean and safe…’For singers, regardless of how hot it is, wear long pants and nice shoes,’ he said. “The general rule is that you don’t want to show skin, so a long-sleeved shirt is also appropriate.’


Just as styles that are too casual or revealing should be avoided, so should clothing that is too dressy or formal. ‘There’s a line between too casual and too dressy,’ said Sammy Tonkei White, a Kiowa emcee, who has been working with pow wows since 1959. ‘Just as young people who are not dressed appropriately should leave, it would look funny if an Indian got up and danced in a tuxedo.’

Anything that sends the wrong message

Pow wows often are open to the public and outsiders are welcome, [Erny] Zah  a singer and emcee who has traveled the pow wow circuit all over the country said. But the burden to educate the masses falls on participants – the organizers, emcees, dancers and singers – who are tasked with providing an authentic Native experience in an inauthentic world.”