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Montana State University to host 48th Annual American Indian Council Powwow

"Our culture and everything that we practice is still very much alive”
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Posted at 8:57 AM, Mar 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-29 11:13:07-04

BOZEMAN — This Friday and Saturday, Montana State University is hosting the 48th Annual American Indian Council Powwow at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

Putting on one of the most popular powwows in Montana takes a lot of preparation and planning.

“We used to get together and have our own little powwows, but it was just us,” said Wayne Stein, an elder-in-residence at Montana State University.

Stein graduated in 1973 before the university held the annual powwows. He said in the 1970s there were very few American Indian students so they would hold their own powwows in the S.O.B Barn on campus.

“The first official powwow was in 1976 and I came to that. I was already graduated but I was working close by so I came to the powwow,” said Stein.

Stein has attended about 35 of the 48 annual MSU Powwows. He said they’ve changed over the last half-century.

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“Well, size number one. I mean the first one in 1976 they probably had 3 or 4 drums, and probably 100 dancers maybe,” he said.

Today the powwows have about 26 drums and over 500 dancers.

And as for attendance?

“I’d say probably north of 1,000 at least,” said Alexander Michaels, co-president of the American Indian Council.

“Oh for sure over a thousand,” agreed another co-president of the American Indian Council, Riley Werk.

A group of 8 students make up the American Indian Council, or AIC. They spend the entire year prepping for this celebration. Michaels explained their fundraising efforts.


“Our fry bread sale down on Main Street. That was probably an all-day thing. That raised a lot of money. And we're raising money year-round for this. And it's not just for this powwow, but the next powwow, and the next one,” said Michaels.

The AIC puts in hours of work for this community event, which is free to the public.

“Our arms are always open. We’re always wanting to teach and educate people who aren't maybe knowledgeable about everything we do, or who we are, and that we’re still here. Our culture and everything that we practice is still very much alive,” said Werk.

Stein is proud to see these young minds taking on such a heavy workload to carry on these important cultural celebrations.

“That’s pretty stressful for young people who have never done it before. I’m always amazed they get it done. And it looks really organized when you’re over there. I'm thinking, 'Man how did they do that?'” he said.

This year's AIC Powwow takes place Friday, March 29 at 6 p.m., and Saturday, March 30 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Brick Breeden Field House.