Powwow finds new home at Expo New Mexico - Albuquerque Journal

Powwow finds new home at Expo New Mexico

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

The Gathering of Nations Powwow will remain in Albuquerque, moving to a new home at Expo New Mexico.

Derek Mathews, founder of the

MATHEWS: Details announced today
MATHEWS: Details announced today

annual event, said Tuesday that details of the new arrangement will be made public today at a news conference at Expo New Mexico. He declined further comment until then.

Billed as the largest gathering of Native Americans and indigenous people in the world, the two-day Gathering of Nations annually has drawn upward of 75,000 people to the University of New Mexico’s basketball arena, where it has been held for most of its 33 years. It reportedly generated $20 million annually in local economic activity.

On May 5, less than a week after the conclusion of this year’s event, the University of New Mexico terminated its contract with the Gathering of Nations, effectively ending its three-decade relationship, one that had been strained by animosity and antagonism for many of those years.

mkb022509b
HARRIS: Cited security issues

UNM Executive Vice President for Administration David Harris said the contract was terminated because of ongoing concerns about safety and security in WisePies Arena aka The Pit.

UNM initially cited “financial and operational considerations” in its decision, saying the university took a $2,300 loss from the previous year’s event.

The contract termination elicited an uproar from the community, including strong criticism of the university from the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce and Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup. Officials on both sides conceded the relationship had been rocky for some time.

Because the Gathering of Nations controlled the ticketing operation, Harris said in an interview last week, UNM could never be certain how many people were in the facility at any given time, creating potential fire and crowd control safety issues.

The grounds and facilities at Expo New Mexico, including Tingley Coliseum, will host future Gathering of Nations powwows, according to the event's founder. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
The grounds and facilities at Expo New Mexico, including Tingley Coliseum, will host future Gathering of Nations powwows, according to the event’s founder. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Further, he maintained that Gathering of Nations organizers fought to keep uniformed and armed campus police officers out of the building during the event, preferring to hire unarmed security guards instead. That created a potential security risk, according to Harris and UNM Police Chief Kevin McCabe.

But Mathews said powwow employees who worked the entrance and exit doors used hand-held clickers to track indoor numbers, which allowed ticket sales to be slowed or temporarily halted as needed. The Gathering of Nations had control of ticket sales written into its contract because of fear that UNM would raise ticket prices if allowed that authority, making the event too costly for many families, he said.

Security concerns were unfounded, he said. There had never been a problem in all the years that private security guards were used at what is essentially a spiritual event, and where powwow rules prohibited the sale or use of alcohol, he said.

Although UNM officials insisted that “money was never the issue,” they also pointed out that during the course of each year, about 50 UNM employees worked on various projects in preparation for the Gathering of Nations. That personnel investment was greater than the revenue the event generated for the university. In fact, they insisted, the university regularly lost money hosting the yearly event.

“How is that even possible?” Mathews asked. He noted that he promptly paid all rent, facility fees and other bills presented by the university for hosting the Gathering of Nations, and the university also generated revenue from indoor concession sales and parking.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Bus crashes in Albuquerque after passenger grabs steering wheel, ...
ABQnews Seeker
A Greyhound bus driver was seriously ... A Greyhound bus driver was seriously injured and five passengers taken to local hospitals after a bus carrying 25 people crashed into a light ...
2
Paseo crash leaves motorcyclist dead
ABQnews Seeker
BCSO: Traffic is backed up, seek ... BCSO: Traffic is backed up, seek an alternative route
3
‘Double dip La Niña’ ahead
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico braces for another warm, ... New Mexico braces for another warm, dry winter
4
Suit: APS failed to probe reports of gun at ...
ABQnews Seeker
Family of slain 13-year-old student also ... Family of slain 13-year-old student also faults parents of alleged shooter
5
Students in need get a holiday shopping splurge
ABQnews Seeker
Businesses donate thousands to let kids ... Businesses donate thousands to let kids shop at local department stores
6
Time to get physical; Aggies look to rebound in ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Lobos outrebounded the Aggies in ... The Lobos outrebounded the Aggies in last weeks win in Las Cruces, the first time that's happened since Chris Jans has coached at NMSU. ...
7
LANL scientist aids hunt for cancer cure
ABQnews Seeker
Antarctic bacteria found in ‘sea squirts’ ... Antarctic bacteria found in ‘sea squirts’ show promise in fighting melanoma
8
No more MVD cattle call; state sticks with appointments
ABQnews Seeker
Plus 37 NM license plates, speed ... Plus 37 NM license plates, speed cameras that see all, and free holiday parking
9
Authorities: House blaze near Española leaves 2 children dead
ABQnews Seeker
Cause of fire still under investigation, ... Cause of fire still under investigation, officials say