The annual event starts on Thursday, April 25, with the Miss Indian World Pageant and runs through Saturday, April 27.
The event is considered the most prominent, popular and legendary Native American event in North America.
Members of more than 750 tribes from throughout the United States, Canada and around the world will attend the powwow.
The three-day festival will include more than 3,000 traditional Native American singers and dancers competing for prizes, and more than 800 Native artisans, craftsmen and traders displaying and selling their work in the expanded Indian Traders Market.
The event will also feature what organizers say will be the world’s tallest wooden tepee.
“It’s a little over 53 feet tall,” says Derek Mathews, founder and director of the Gathering of Nations. “The former record is 52 feet, and we’re going to beat that.”
In addition, contemporary indigenous and other music groups will be performing a wide variety of musical genres on Stage 49 – which is headlined by A Tribe Called Red and Stateline.
Mathews says the Gathering of Nations strives to be a positive cultural, spiritual and entertaining experience that is exhilarating for all who attend.
That’s why the event presents new and different features each year.
The event will again include the Traditional Horse and Rider Regalia Parade, held both Friday and Saturday afternoons.
“This event honors the ‘horse culture’ of Native tribes,” Mathews says. “The grounds has provided the space and room to accommodate this event with increased occupant capacity.”
Moving to Expo New Mexico from the Pit at the University of New Mexico has allowed the event to expand its footprint across the more than 60 acres of space.
“Everything is going to be indoors this year,” he says. “All of the vendors will be inside the arts building or the Lujan building. We’ll have some vendors scattered through the entire campus. We’ve really been able to put our footprint in a better way in this spot.”
Mathews says that on April 26 there is going to be a congressional/tribal reception at Expo New Mexico.
“There are several dignitaries coming from Washington, D.C., and governors.”
The Miss Indian World program is getting involved with the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.
“The Miss Indian World program will address that throughout the weekend,” he says. “We’re going to have (U.S. Rep.) Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) here, as well, and she’s taken an active role in addressing this issue. We’re bringing the two forces together to raise awareness for what is happening.”
Miss Indian World will be crowned at 7:30 p.m. April 27.
“The event is about experiencing the culture and positivity,” Mathews says. “It’s an event that continues to grow and evolve. It’s a life’s work.”