ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a final “adios” to the University of New Mexico, the Gathering of Nations has started the “$2,300 Club,” which founder Derek Mathews said Wednesday was “an obvious reference” to UNM’s claim that it lost $2,300 from the 2015 powwow and was part of UNM’s justification for terminating the Gathering of Nations contract.
Donors can contribute $2,300, or less depending on their budget, to help defray the cost of the powwow’s move from UNM’s basketball arena to Expo New Mexico.
Billed as the largest gathering in the world of Native Americans and indigenous people, the Gathering of Nations generates about $20 million into the local economy. It had been held at the arena, more commonly know as the Pit, for most of its 33 years.
The idea behind the $2,300 Club formed in the weeks following the highly publicized contract termination. Mathews said he and members of his family went about their normal business in Albuquerque and encountered people “who randomly came up to us in the grocery store, at Wal-Mart, the gas station or the bank, saying that UNM’s $2,300 loss was so small, relatively speaking, and they’d be happy to cover it for us to keep us at UNM.”
UNM officials later said the annual powwow consistently failed to generate enough revenue to cover the university’s expenses, but they insisted money was not the principal reason for terminating the contract. Both sides acknowledged that there had been friction between them going back many years, some of which stemmed from issues about who controlled ticketing and security.
Mathews said that any donations to the $2,300 Club will be used for one-time expenses, such as new signage, wireless scanners at ticket booths, and other equipment required for setting up at a new venue.
Next year’s Gathering of Nations will be held at Expo New Mexico on April 28 and 29. Kicking it off will be a ceremonial parade from the Pit to Expo New Mexico, with a runner carrying the traditional Eagle Staff – the Native American flag – and leading a field of runners, followed by a float carrying Miss Indian World and other dignitaries.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Gathering of Nations’ $2,300 Club, can do so at any Wells Fargo bank branch or by calling the Gathering of Nations at 505-836-2810.
Donors will get a commemorative $2,300 Club T-shirt with the name of all the contributors.