Stewart Father’s Day Powwow attracts thousands from across the West |

Stewart Father’s Day Powwow attracts thousands from across the West

Claire Cudahy

First Nation's Focus

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Over the June 15-17 weekend, thousands of Native Americans converged on the Stewart Indian School in Carson City for the annual Stewart Father’s Day Powwow.

“I thought it went really well. It was well attended, and I was very thankful that the weather held,” said Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “I heard a lot of people saying they had prayed for good weather and for the storm to miss us, and it did. I thought that was pretty amazing.”

Over the three-day event, Rupert estimates around 3,000 people attended the powwow.

Among the attendees on June 16 was Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

“This is the first time a sitting governor has come to the powwow. It was great to hear him talk about his support for the powwow as well as Native American people in general,” said Rupert. “We honored him with an honor dance, and he did a round dance with everybody.”

The weekend was not only a chance to celebrate generations of Native American traditions, but also an opportunity for alumni from Stewart Indian School to reconnect.

Tony Bejay and his wife drove 14 hours from Tuba City, Arizona, to attend the powwow for the 12th time. Bejay graduated from Stewart Indian School in 1965 after eight years.

“I don’t come back for the powwow. I say to my family, ‘I’m going home,’” said Bejay. “I had the best years here. I learned a lot of things about being independent, being responsible. That’s the thing I really appreciate from my time here.”

This year’s powwow also gave alumni the chance to see plans for the new cultural center and museum coming to the campus.

“We had on display the renderings of what the exhibit design will be, so our staff was able to visit with alumni to get input into those exhibits and their ideas on what experiences and stories should be shared in their cultural center,” explained Rupert.

The Nevada Indian Commission was allocated $4.5 million in 2017 to renovate the school’s administration building into the museum and the first Stewart Post Office into a welcome center.

A traditional blessing ceremony will be held at the school on July 11.