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Drum beats along the South Platte at the Denver March Powwow

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The Denver March Powwow is one of the largest Native American gatherings in North America, and one of the Mile High City’s most colorful events. On March 23-25, the Denver Coliseum will come alive with as many as 60 drummers pounding out a beat, as hundreds of dancers swirl on stage in a flash of color and feathers. Some 1,600 Native American dancers from 100 tribes attend the Powwow for three-days of singing, dancing, storytelling, food and art.

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The modern Powwow is a social occasion for Indian peoples to come together to sing and dance and honor the heritage that has been passed down to them from their ancestors. Modern Powwow dancing has different styles that derive from traditional dances of the various tribes, but are not specific to any one tribe. The dances fall into three basic configurations: the Grand Entry, Intertribal Dances and Contests. Besides watching the dances, another big activity at the Powwow is shopping. The Coliseum is lined with more than 170 booths selling a variety of Native American art works and products, including jewelry, blankets, pottery and beadwork – all from skilled Indian craftsman. Visitors can sample Native American foods such as fry bread and Indian tacos or buy an authentic Cheyenne arrow or a Sioux tomahawk.

But the most colorful attraction of the Powwow is the dancing. Intertribal dancing means: "Everybody dance!" During these dances, you may see all the different styles of Powwow dancers, while 60 drummers and chanters keep up an incredible beat. The essence of Indian dancing is that it is an individual activity, but done in a group. Each dancer moves independently to the beat of the drum, creating an individual style. Many of the women have hundreds of bells sewn into their dresses, setting off a pleasant chime, while dozens of men fill the room with ancient chants. Everybody dance!

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