A Christmas powwow on Dec. 22 featured drumming, dancing and the participation of Pueblo, Gros Ventre, North Ute, Shoshone-Bannock, Navajo and Sioux Indians.
In a perfect blending of American Indian and Anglo cultures, Santa Claus stopped by to hand out bags full of fruit and candy.But instead of taking place in Utah's beautiful Red Rock Country, the powwow was held in the heart of Salt Lake City at the Indian Walk-In Center, 120 W. 1300 South.
Volunteers gathered several days before to prepare the Christmas bags full of fruit and candy. Joe Granato Inc. donated four boxes of oranges and the Sweet Candy Co. gave 25 pounds of Christmas taffy. Donna Hawkins, general manager of the Executive Inn, arranged for lodging for the host drum and head singer, Verlon Gould of the Snake River Shoshone-Bannock Tribe from Fort Hall, Idaho.
Lacy Harris, North Ute, was emcee for the event. Nino Reyas, Pueblo; Larry Lavelli, Gros Ventre; Emerson Bill, Navajo; Tona Thomas, Sioux; Nathan James and Mavis Benally, Navajo, also took part in the program.
The Indian Walk-In Center is dedicated to preserving American Indian culture and assisting American Indians in making the transition to an urban setting. The center provides an emergency food and clothing bank. Recent board member Pat Smith said, "Families often come in that are hard-pressed for help. The center has two rooms downstairs with emergency clothing to help in situations like these. But they are really in need of children's and infants' clothing."
A United Way agency, the center particularly addresses the need to preserve the dignity and spirituality of American Indians. The monthly powwows are attended by some 500 tribal members. The American Indian experience of drumming and dancing, along with the traditional Indian values, are shared with American Indian children who make up a very small minority in Salt Lake City.
Sonja Chesley, a member of the board of directors of the center, helped prepare the Christmas candy. She explained that the center also offers a literacy education program, Cub Scouting, weekly dancing and drumming practice and legal aid. The non-profit Walk-In Center also offers AA and Alanon meetings.
Gail Russell, center director and a member of the Chemehuevi/Apache tribe, can be reached at 486-4877 for further information about the center.