Downtown Spokane Pow Wow Canceled Due To Lack Of Funding

Every year, the Native American community in the Inland Northwest hosts the Spokane Falls Northwest Encampment and Powwow at Riverfront Park. Citing financial concerns this year, they’ve had to cancel the event, which was supposed to be this weekend.

The powwow has been an annual event for 25 years, according 2010’s chairperson David Browneagle. Last year’s event was met with enthusiastic sponsorship and an excited community, he said, which is why its absence this year has been a big blow to the Native American community.

All week, the Native American Community Center in Downtown Spokane has been getting calls from those used to seeing the powwow at the park around this time, questioning why it has been canceled.

Only one person can answer that question: 2011 chairperson Kathleen Warren.

?We have a lot of people out there, you know, they’re very sad and disappointed as well, but they’re understanding, but also giving their support,? Warren said.

The annual powwow event is a gathering of all Inland Northwest Tribes at the Spokane Falls, which is where their ancestors used to fish and celebrate together. The cultural significance of this event is big, so the decision to cancel it didn’t come easy.

Warren broke down during an interview with KXLY about canceling the powwow. She composed herself and explained that the event couldn’t go on for a few reasons.

?For myself it was very devastating, but in talking with a lot of different people, my friends and family, we are moving forward, we’re excited and excited for next year,? Warren said.

She says there wasn’t enough funding for this year’s event. They accept a grant from the City of Spokane most years and this year the Parks and Recreation Department offered to wave $12,000 in fees. Still, that wasn’t enough.

Major donors like Avista were able to pitch in, but Warren went on to explain that the downturn in the economy put a dent in donations from small businesses and the community.

Also, Warren felt she lacked support internally and didn’t have the subcommittees she needed to help her organize the event.

The powwow was supposed to be on Friday and Saturday, but those plans have been scrapped. Instead, Warren says they’re looking ahead to next year.

?Yes, definitely count on if not a two-day perhaps a three-day powwow with a feast,? Warren said.