It came and went. Dancers and singers from over 11 different states including the Canadian province of Saskatchewan traveled to Lawrence, Kansas to compete for a one day, week day powwow competition. In fact, we actually doubled our total number of participants, with over 65 registered contestants, we have displayed growth through two years of the Young Professionals Powwow+ Trade Show and Convention. All contestants were between the ages of 18 to 35 and the powwow was managed by an entire head staff under the age of 26.

We are very fortunate for the ability to host another successful event and could not have done this without our great partners and sponsors. Their support has enhanced the ability to implement our programming in this community. Without them, I would not be writing this today. Lawrence has shown its willingness to engage in new cultural tourism and recreational traveling opportunities. We are ready for the next step. As we have shown that powwows are a driving economic and social factor in this community, we must look at developing consistent revenue streams that can bolster our community development efforts.

The Young Professionals Powwow+ Trade Show and Convention was an idea designed to engage the up and coming dancers while emphasizing the unique economic opportunity of a week day powwow. Week day powwows are not new, as individuals can dance for up to 40 days straight when traveling through many First Nations in Canada. They are just uncommon here in the contiguous United States. Our pilot program has suggested that week day powwows can provide an economic boost to communities that lay within optimal proximity. The segmentation of 18-29 and 18-35 year old participants in each event has signified that this programming is worth investing in.

Communities, both urban and rural, must look for new and creative economic opportunities that are instantaneous. The NATIVE Act never mentioned anything about urban Indigenous communities and hopefully this can be used as evidence that we cannot afford to be left out in future conversations. Especially when this “Native community” has over 4,100 self identified Indigenous people with a “federal tourism asset” in Haskell Indian Nations University.

We are committed to building Lawrence into a destination driver for all Indigenous people. It starts by emphasizing the unique characteristics of our community. We have the educational capacity and infrastructure, sound public transportation systems, an Indian Health Services clinic and two higher education institutions, with one solely dedicated to serving federally recognized Indigenous people. All these components build for a strong foundation that can and will attract Indigenous people to this community within the next three years. We hope to see you here soon.

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