Get ready: Teton County will host a powwow this fall with a little help from the town of Jackson and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole.
The Teton Powwow, to be held Sept. 21 and hosted by Central Wyoming College-Jackson, will receive $5,000 in town money after the Town Council unanimously approved the funding at its July 1 meeting.
“The United Tribes Club, which has run powwows on the Riverton main campus, they will be running this,” CWC-Jackson Director Susan Durfee said.
Besides being an offshoot of the events that have been hosted in Riverton, the idea for the powwow grew from a diversity training CWC-Jackson hosted for community leaders in May. Focusing on inclusion, that event brought in Joseph Fountain, a Riverton psychology professor; Ivan Posey, the school’s tribal education coordinator; and Lisa Appelhans, who works with people with disabilities, to speak to community leaders from elected boards and nonprofits.
“It was instigated by the challenges that occurred in the Old West Days [the 2018 redface controversy] and what happened in SHIFT’s Emerging Leaders Program,” Durfee said.
After the event Durfee spoke with Mayor Pete Muldoon and Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Anna Olson about the possibility of holding a Jackson powwow in 2020, but they encouraged her to hold it this fall to “celebrate differences.”
Because the college’s main campus in Riverton serves the Wind River Reservation, and the United Tribes Club includes members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, the powwow will include traditional dances and other pieces of regional Native American cultures. It will also be a chance for artisans from the Wind River Reservation to sell their arts and crafts.
“This is an opportunity not only to share their heritage,” Durfee said, “but to go into a market and sell things and develop their line of work.”
Like Olson and Muldoon, the Town Council supported bringing Native American culture to Jackson.
“This is an effort where the council has supported CWC in the past on facilitating some cultural exchange with the Wind River Reservation and with our native neighbors in the region,” Councilor Jim Stanford said in the July 1 meeting. “I think it’s important.”
The council’s pledge of $5,000 goes along with $5,500 the college has received from the Community Foundation and $5,000 from the Wyoming Humanities Council. It puts Durfee close to the $17,000 she needs for the event, and she said interest from individual donors should put her over the top in her fundraising.
CWC-Jackson brought a similar event to Jackson last fall in the Nations Within a Nation speaker series, which invited Native American presenters to Jackson to start an intercultural discussion. Durfee sees the powwow and the speaker series as part of CWC-Jackson’s desire to interact with the community outside its academic work.
“The emphasis is for Central Wyoming College to provide a richer set of community offerings here in Teton County that is above and beyond the academics,” she said.