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Largest Get-Together of Native Americans Held In New Mexico

The "Gathering of Nations Powwow" takes place every spring in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year, more than 150,000 people attended the gathering at this Southwestern city during "Native American Week." It is the largest gathering of Native Americans in the world.

Native American culture blends with the American mainstream at the "Gathering of Nations" held at the University of New Mexico. More than 3,000 Indian performers representing approximately 500 North American tribes converged on the Albuquerque campus.

There were a diverse range of events, including traditional singing and dancing, the crowning of Miss Indian World, and the Indian Trader's Market.

There's also the chance to make fast money [sell goods].

The setting for the "Gathering of Nations" is the legendary arena known as the "PIT". The natives perform here for various reasons. This dancer came to express his religious beliefs. "A man who dances is a man who will not fail under the eyes of God - so to speak."

A Massachusetts native says it is tradition. "I am a traditional dancer, we just dance for the people, for our relatives, for good health and future."

Most of the Native Americans are proud to bring their families here, like this Oklahoma woman. "Since she can walk she has been out there in the arena. I love to know that she could do other things but she would rather be here dancing."

The Indian Trader's Market offers a special shopping experience, with hundreds of craftsmen and traders displaying their wares. There is also the opportunity to share rich tribal culture.

This artist is preparing a wedding gift. "Usually I put on the bear claw to give them strength, power, and courage in their marriage. Inside the bear claw I put the journey design, the journey the couple would take in their marriage."

Symbolism is an important part of Native American culture.

“My hoops mean the circle, it's like the four stages of life,” says one young boy. “One stage is birth, the second is childhood, the third is adulthood, and the last is death. But it never stops, it goes in circles, it just goes round and round."

While Native Americans proudly participate in traditional events, their everyday lifestyle increasingly resembles other Americans.

A girl, holding a video game, admits, "I just watch TV and play video games, that's all I do."

The large turnout for the “Gathering of Nations,” especially among Native American youth, shows that while there is acceptance of the American mainstream, the basic fabric of the Indian traditional lifestyle has also survived.