BILLINGS — After two years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 52nd Annual MSUB Powwow was back on this year and took over the gym at the Billings university on Saturday.
"They come from all over Montana and even Canada and Wyoming and Idaho. It's amazing seeing different tribes all come together and dance and celebrate," said George Reed, the head man dancer at the powwow.
The fitting theme of the powwow this year was resiliency. Montana's Native American reservations were hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for people living in the state's reservations.
"Huge event today and yesterday because everyone is coming together and celebrating resiliency. Native Americans coming together, they empower each other when they dance together. Our culture, our regalia, our dancing and our traditions make us stronger as Native Americans," Reed said.
Reed is a member of the Crow Tribe and this was his first time dancing at a powwow since he was a kid. While he was a bit nervous, he said he leaned on his two brothers for support.
"It was emotional because I got to dance. I had to get my stuff together. I had my two brothers, Kyle and Henry, they danced with me and it all just worked out. It all planned and worked out. I got to dance here and I'm just honored to dance here at the MSUB Powwow because I went to school here and it all feels right," Reed said.
His brother Henry agreed.
"A good feeling. Good vibes. Before, he used to dance Fancy Dance, but it's nice to see him out here in the Crow Traditional dancing with us," said Reed's brother, Henry Reed.
During the powwow, there are times when dancers compete in different categories like fancy dance or traditional women's dance, but more than that the powwow is about keeping Native American culture alive.
"I actually feel like a family, I would say. Like a family, because we're all dressed together celebrating Native American resiliency and our culture and that it's still alive and we're keeping it alive," Reed said.