5 things you must experience at Sunwatch’s Pow Wow this weekend

You don’t have to travel far to immerse yourself in Native American culture. 

Thanks to the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans and its annual Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow, families can learn more about Indian life and traditions through dancing, drumming, singing, crafts and stories.

This year’s Pow Wow is slated for Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25.

It’s held at SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park in Dayton, where visitors can also learn about the Fort Ancient people who once lived along the Great Miami River.

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Here’s are 5 things to know, do and see to make the most of your experience, event organizers tell us:

For Native Americans in contemporary times, the Pow Wow is a time to honor and share their culture and to celebrate traditions that have ancient roots. SUBMITTED PHOTO (Staff Writer)

1. You will experience a variety of Native American cultures.

Our local Pow Wow provides a great sampling of Native culture across-the-board. “It’s not specific to a particular tribe,” says Amy Carlson, one of the event organizers. “And it’s not specific to the people who would have been in Ohio. It’s inter-tribal, people from a variety of cultures.”

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Children get into the spirit of the annual Pow Wow. SUBMITTED PHOTO (Staff Writer)

2. The Pow Wow is fun for the whole family

The Pow Wow is also a great event for families. Kids can participate in inter-tribal song, everyone joins the circle, and the emcee offers explanations for everything taking place.

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The women take part in traditional dances accompanied by rapid, whirling rhythms. SUBMITTED PHOTO (Staff Writer)

3. Make sure you plan to watch the Grand Entry and the dancing.

A highlight of the event is the Grand Entry when all of the dancers enter the arena at the same time with various flags and staffs representing various nations and societies. “It’s a moment of pride and very festive,” says Guy Jones, who’s been responsible for organizing the Pow Wow since its inception.

Sawyer says the dancing is especially popular because visitors get to see different styles of dancing as well as a variation in the regalia worn by the performers.

“There’s a valid reason for the regalia,” says Jones. “The dance regalias themselves are a badge of honor. People see a headdress and refer to it as a war bonnet, but these are not war bonnets. They are good deed bonnets. If you see someone with feathers, these feathers were given to them because they’ve done something honorable.”

The annual Pow Wow at Sunwatch includes dancing, drumming and singing. SUBMITTED PHOTO (Staff Writer)

4. Of course there’s amazing FOOD!

Traditional foods include fresh roasted corn on the cob, bison burgers and Indian tacos.

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The Dayton Art Institute has just opened a new Native American gallery. SUBMITTED PHOTO BY LINDA MANNARINO (Staff Writer)

6. Buy yourself some jewelry, pottery.

Simply gorgeous items to see and buy.

Craft vendors sell Native American jewelry, pottery, baskets, clothing items, leather goods and wood. Check out the corn jewelry using some of the corn harvested from the SunWatch community garden.

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Want to go?

WHAT: The 29th Annual Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow presented by The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans

WHEN: Noon to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 24 and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 25. Gates open at 11 a.m. on both days. Grand Entry at noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

WHERE: SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park, a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. Located at 2301 West River Road, Dayton.

ADMISSION: $8/Adults, $6/Seniors (60+) and Children (6-17), Free/Age 5 and under. Weekend passes are available for $15/Adults, $9/Seniors (60+) and Children (6-16). Free/Age 5 and under. Proceeds benefit Sunwatch and the annual event.

MORE INFO: For questions, call (937) 268-8199 or visit


(Schedule subject to change)

Saturday, June 24

11 a.m. — Entertainment

Noon — Grand Entry - Flag Song - Victory Song - Prayer - Posting of the Staff and colors - Veterans Song

12:30 p.m. — Intertribal and Special dances

4:45 p.m. — Retreat of Staffs and Colors

5 p.m. — Dinner Break and Entertainment

6 p.m. — Grand Entry - Flag Song - Victory Song - Prayer - Posting of the Staffs and Colors

6:30 p.m. — Intertribal and Special dances

8:30 p.m. Retreat of Staffs and Colors

Sunday, June 25

11 a.m. — Entertainment

Noon — Grand Entry - Flag Song - Victory Song - Prayer - Posting of the Staffs and Colors - Veterans Song

12:30 p.m. — Intertribal and Special dances

4:45 p.m. — Retreat of Staff and Colors

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