DENVER — After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Denver's longtime March Powwow returned, drawing crowds of people.
The event is another sign of communities being at a new spot in the pandemic, with case rates the lowest they've been in months.
“I think its really a momentous occasion for a lot of people," said Denver March Powwow President Ken LaDeaux.
With the event canceled in 2020 and 2021, he said it was a welcome opportunity for more than 100 vendors to make up on lost business from the previous years.
“Providing a great deal of crafts, traditional crafts made by the tribal people themselves," LaDeaux said.
A competition of dancing occurred Saturday, featuring dancers from various tribes across not only Colorado, but around the country and beyond.
The event also honors people within tribal communities for certain accomplishments, as well as memorializing those who have passed away.
LaDeaux estimates that an excess of 200 tribes have come to the festival in past years.
He adds that the festival drives an emphasis of education.
“This cultural event has a great deal with education," he said. “A lot of our efforts are to try to pass that knowledge and information to the non-tribal public.”
The event also gives people a chance to get doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state health department set up a mobile vaccine clinic outside of the Denver Coliseum where the event took place, offering free COVID-19 shots. No I.D. or insurance was necessary.
"Encourage anybody to come and get the vaccine. It’s not only for the tribal people but anyone that’s interested in doing it," LaDeaux said.
According to the latest data from DDPHE, 61.3% (2,733 people) of American Indian people ages 5 and older in Denver County are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The latest data from the Tri-County Health Department shows that 67% (2,059 people) of American Indian or Alaskan Native people in Arapahoe County are fully vaccinated, with 61% (1,909 people) in Adams County.
LaDeaux adds that the event has helped provide hope.
“There’s a lot of our tribal members and a lot of people that are no longer here that have suffered from the difficulties of COVID. So I think that that’s giving them hope that there's a way out of this,” he said.
Denver March Powwow runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, and the mobile vaccine clinic operates 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tickets for the event can be bought at the front ticket windows of the Denver Coliseum.
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