Local Gathering of the Tribes slated for July

Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2001

When Garfield Katasse scanned the audience at The Gathering of the Tribes Pow Wow last September he liked what he saw.

"When you looked out over the crowd there were feathers all over the place," Katasse said. "It was wonderful."

Katasse helped organize that event and he and members of the Juneau Pow Wow Club are busy organizing the next gathering, scheduled for July 6 through 8 at the National Guard Armory. The group is looking for housing for guests and for volunteers to help with The Gathering of the Tribes, Pow Wow 2001. Space is available for arts and crafts tables as well.

"Our goal is really to bring other cultures, other tribes, to Alaska to share their drumming, their dancing," Katasse said. "Then we share the beauty of Alaska, the people, everything."

This will be the fifth Pow Wow the group has put together in Juneau and Katasse said each one builds on the last. Drumming and dancing are the highlights, but unlike most Pow Wows down south, dancing in Juneau is non competitive. Contest dancing can mean big prize money for top dancers.

"It's not part of our tradition here," Katasse said.

He said interest and participation in Juneau Pow Wows has been good, even without the lure of a cash prizes.

"Groups in Oregon and Wyoming have already raised their transportation funds to come," he said.

Donations and ticket sales fund the event, and Katasse said local groups and individuals provide food and housing for the guests. Katasse said the Juneau club divides up all the money made from ticket sales and divides it up between the visiting participants, after expenses are deducted.

One Pow Wow tradition the local club has embraced is the blanket dance, where audience members are encouraged to come out during the dance and donate to a cause. Katasse said two blanket dances will be held at this year's gathering to benefit the AWARE shelter.

Katasse said Pow Wows are on the rise in Alaska, and groups in Ketchikan, Kake, Fairbanks and Anchorage have talked with him about networking and coordinating events.

Katasse said groups coming include the High Wind Singers from Fort Washakie, Wyo., Ta-Othey Spirit from Canada, the groups Painted Horse and Young Blood from Calgary, Alberta, the Iron Hand Drummers from Oregon, two hoop dance groups from Canada and several Alaska groups. Native American flute player David Sanitass from Maine will also perform.

Frank Alby of Juneau will serve as Master of Ceremonies and Leonard Gone will be the arena manager.

Katasse said the Native American Club at the University of Alaska Southeast will sponsor a Native fashion show.

"Colleen Dunn did a fashion show at Celebration, and she's setting it up," Katasse said. "They'll show off regalia, and tell about the tribe and the culture and why they dress like that."

A "49" picnic, a potluck to introduce all the participants, will be held at Sandy Beach the night before the Pow Wow.

For more information regarding upcoming meetings and joining the Pow Wow Club or fund-raising call 586-8187 or write to the Juneau Pow Wow Club, Garfield Katasse, Chairman, 326 4th St. Apt. 306, Juneau, AK 99801.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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