By Shawn O’Brate, Staff Writer

ETHETE – For the first time since 2019 the Ethete community and Northern Arapaho tribe members from all over are able to join together in celebration again. This weekend the Wind River reservation is finally holding the Ethete Celebration Pow-Wow again to help honor the new year and return to regular life after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. 

Everyone in attendance held fast to the tradition and the smiles that came with the Ethete Celebration Pow-Wow, which has been around the reservation for generations.

“This pow-wow means a lot to us,” Alicia Armajo, President of the current Ethete Celebration Pow-Wow committee said, “some of our elders that started this pow-wow aren’t around anymore, and they started this because they wanted to have a celebration to celebrate our new year and to keep our people around after the Sun Dance ceremony.”

The Sun Dance ceremony took place the week prior to the Ethete Celebration and brings native families together to pray for healing, as well as to mark the new year for the tribe. 

“This pow-wow is like a celebration of that [Sun Dance ceremony],” Armajo continued, “the ceremony is special to our people, families come back from out of state to be together and when they leave…you have that lonely feeling, you miss them, so they wanted to carry that good feeling over into this weekend and celebrate our new year with our people and, now, people all over.” 

The first night of the Pow-Wow was filled with bright colors and spirit-filled young girls all vying to become the next Ethete Celebration Royalty. Girls aged 7-16 attempted to win the crowd and the crown in the Princess competitions before girls ages 17-20 then competed to become Ethete Celebration Queen afterwards.

Every girl that attempted to win the Ethete Celebration Pow-Wow had to do some public speaking as usual, answering questions about themselves and their tribe, before showing their specific dance style. 

Throughout the weekend-long pow-wow the girls will be handing out 50/50 tickets and showing the judges how they represent themselves for their family and their tribe.

Friday’s beginning to the day is truly “the start of the pow-wow” said Armajo, “that’s when we get into the full swing of events. There’s special honorings, grass dancers, drum group special, and all sorts of dances.”

According to Armajo, and most of the crowd that collected for the pow-wow on the first night, were just happy to be together again after the waiting and the patience that everybody had to fight through to be able to celebrate with each other again.

“We’ve had a long layoff since we last did this…and we’ve lost a lot of people on the reservation, like all around the world,” Armajo said, “but we want to give that good feeling again going into the weekend.”

Armajo said to achieve that good feeling she organized a common feature at pow-wows, but now one of the more important things that can be done before a celebration like this occurs.

“We’re going to have [dancers] bless the ground and chase all that bad feeling around…I hope everybody likes that.”

Although this was the first time that Armajo was able to put together the pow-wow in her three years on the committee she said that it came together well and that everyday the celebration continues she is learning more and more.

“Coming up to [the celebration] and getting everything prepared was fine,” Armajo explained, “but it moves fast and once it gets here it’s like a whirlwind…everything keeps you on your toes.”

After every day of the pow-wow Armajo said she has a chance to reflect on it and be even more ready and willing in the morning.

The event that she, her committee and the crew put together in Ethete is worthy of celebration and is cause for a fun time whether you’re part of the tribe or not. 

If you have a chance to visit the pow-wow today (July 16) or tomorrow (July 17) do so with no hesitation as the celebration will pull you back into the spirit of the tribe both emotionally and physically.