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Hit the road, Desert Companion readers! And while you're at it, have a look around. This issue invites you to not only escape to the outdoors, but also to think about the environmental issues affecting our pursuits and our world.

How (and Where) to Powwow

An indigenous woman stands with her back to the camera in a sunny field

These celebratory gatherings organized by Native American tribes welcome all

Singing. Traditional dancing. Drum circles. While Indigenous rituals are off-limits to non-Native people, powwows offer a chance for the public to experience authentic Indigenous culture firsthand. These celebratory gatherings grew out of traditions that brought people together to share food — some danced while others cooked. Over time, the clothing and practices evolved into the regalia and ceremonies we see today.

There are many powwows throughout the desert Southwest — including the following selection within driving distance of Las Vegas. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. Since customs and rules vary, visitors should check an event’s website or social media for updated information. And if you’re unsure what to do, err on the side of respect.

San Diego State University Powwow

April 13, San Diego
This is among the longest-running powwows organized by a university and is hosted by the Native Resource Center, which supports Native American students pursuing degrees. Expect dance exhibitions, bird singing, and honorings.
11a, free, San Diego State University Main Campus, 5500 Campanile Dr.,

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Powwow for the Planet

April 19-20, Las Vegas
A coalition of UNLV’s alumni, faculty, staff, and student organizations, along with the urban Indigenous community, present this event focused on celebrating tribal sacred places, promoting environmental stewardship, and raising awareness for protection of public lands. Visitors will find a variety of arts and culture activities, vendors, and presentations.
Fri. 4-8p, Sat. 11a-8p, free with registration, UNLV Main Campus, CHEM Lawn,

Intermountain Championships Powwow

June 1-2, Heber City, UT
In its second year, this powwow is all about the dance and drum competition. Hosting this year is The Boyz, a well-known drum group on the powwow circuit, whose powerful beat and soaring vocals keep crowds moving. The layout of food and arts and crafts offers plenty to peruse. Bring camp chairs and canopies, and book your campsite early because it’s going to be very warm.
10a-10p, $6-10, River’s Edge at Deer Park, 7000 Old Highway 40,@culturalfireevents on Instagram

Fathers Day Powwow by the Sea

June 15-16, Imperial Beach, CA
Though held on Father’s Day weekend, this powwow honors women and the life they bring forth. This year’s theme, “Honoring the Ocean,” brings awareness to the ongoing desecration of the Pacific Ocean. The Ashaatakook Bird Singers are honored guests. Bird singers are stewards of the songs retelling the Cahuilla People’s origin story.
11a to dusk, free, Imperial Beach Pier Plaza, (619) 708-7858

Annual Pahrump Social Powwow

Nov. 22-24, Pahrump
Among Pahrump’s best-attended cultural events, this powwow takes place every year just before Thanksgiving. It’s a celebration of Western Shoshone and Paiute tribes, but this year, Danza Azteca Xochipilli from Mexico will perform Indigenous Aztec heritage dances. All Gourd dancers and drummers are welcome.
12p, free, Petrack Park, 150 NV-160,

Native American Veterans Honoring All Nations Powwow

Dec. 7-8, Lake Havasu, AZ
This event celebrates and honors Native American veterans. Competitors can win cash prizes for tradition, fancy, grass, jingle, and chicken dancing. Organizers have introduced new competitions this year for best gourd dancing, fry bread, and women’s dress.
9a, $15 each day, Lake Havasu State Park, 699 London Bridge Rd.,