Stewart Father’s Day Powwow to honor tradition, showcase future |

Stewart Father’s Day Powwow to honor tradition, showcase future

Guy Clifton

Special to First Nation's Focus

Photo caption: Photo cutline: A dancer competes in the 2017 Stewart Father’s Day Powwow on the grounds of the former Stewart Indian School.
Photo: Courtesy Nevada Indian Commission

CARSON CITY, Nev. — This weekend’s Stewart Indian School Father’s Day Powwow is not only a tribute to generations of Native American customs and traditions, it’s also a glimpse into the future of the Stewart facility.

“We’re trying to get everybody out to the campus, so they can see and can hear about our plans for construction of the new cultural center and museum and the grand opening next year,” said Sherry L. Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “We want to get everyone excited about what’s happening at Stewart.”

Hundreds of American Indian dancers, drummers, artists, craftsmen and cultural enthusiasts will converge on Carson City June 15-17 for the annual powwow.

Honored by the American Indian Tourism Conference as the 2017-18 Best Cultural Heritage Experience, the event includes competition dancing, drum circles and a host of auxiliary activities, including a 5-K fun run.

The new cultural center and museum will be located in the former administration building of the school, which was operated by the federal government from 1890 until 1980.

The Nevada Indian Commission was allocated $4.5 million in the 2017 Legislative session to renovate the Administration Building into the new museum building and the first Stewart Post Office building into a new Welcome Center. A traditional blessing ceremony, open to the public, will be held at the site on July 11.

The Cultural Center will feature an exhibition about the unique history of the Stewart Indian School, a research room where researchers and alumni can find archival information about the school’s 90-year history, a room for storytelling and craft making, and a temporary exhibit gallery for contemporary Native art.

Museum staff are currently collecting and preserving archival documents, photographs, student newspapers and yearbooks, clothing, commencement programs, books, tools, teaching and curriculum materials, and other historical      artifacts documenting the school’s history.

Rupert said the powwow is an ideal time to connect with alumni of the school and their family members to let them know about the future plans and to contribute memories or mementos to the project.

“Our museum staff is going to have a table (at the powwow) with renderings of the new cultural center,” Rupert said. “They’ll be getting input from the alumni as well, on what they think should be included in their cultural center.”

The three-day powwow opens Friday with grand entry scheduled for 7 p.m. Grand entry is the grand procession of dancers into the powwow arena at the beginning of each session.  Two sessions are scheduled on Saturday, from 1-5 p.m. and 7-11 p.m. and will wrap up on Sunday with festivities from noon-4 p.m.

Gridley Hilpert of Sun Valley will serve as the Powwow’s master of ceremonies and Art Martinez of Carson City is the arena director.

New this year will be a media area where photographers can photograph dancers and receive orientation on which dances are allowed to be photographed, which are not, and the reasons behind the traditions.

The second annual Color Fun Run is sponsored by the Washoe Tribe. The cost to participate is $20 for individuals; $10 for youths or $80 for teams of 5.  The race will start and finish at the Stewart gym and will be run around the school’s campus. Registration is at 7 a.m. and the run starts at 8 a.m. For more information about the fun run call Filomena Smokey at 775-883-7794.

Volunteers are being sought for this year’s event. Anyone interested should contact Denise Becker at 775-687-7605 or

Guy Clifton is Public Relations Specialist for the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, focusing on museums, arts and Indian news.