Thousands meet at native people's gathering in U.S

Wed May 2, 2012 8:53am EDT
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By Zelie Pollon

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Tomé Roubideaux had not been to the annual meeting of Native American and indigenous people, known as the Gathering of Nations, for a decade because he was battling cancer and too sick to dance.

This year, having survived the disease, the 68-year-old Lakota Indian from Conifer, Colorado, attended the gathering, the largest event of its kind, to give thanks.

Adorned with a vest and headdress of porcupine quills, an eagle feather fan and beaded moccasins, Roubideaux joined thousands of people from 500 tribes from as far away as New Zealand and South America to dance to the rhythm of dozens of drummers.

"It's so good to be here. It's my best therapy," he said.

Some 3,000 singers and dancers perform over the three-day Gathering of Nations, which began on Thursday in Albuquerque.

Celebrating its 29th year, organizers say it's the largest meeting of Native American and indigenous people in the world. They predict that about 150,000 people will attend.

Participants with buffalo horns, coyote skins and painted faces packed a basketball arena, while 800 artisans displayed their work outside. A webcast for the event had 4,000 hits within the first four hours, said organizer Jason Whitehouse.

"A pow-wow by definition is a social gathering, since it brings people together," Whitehouse said. "This gathering kicks off the pow-wow season, like a rodeo circuit."   Continued...