University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings Powwow to honor veterans

March 26, 2015



American Indian Outreach, 657-2182
Carmen Price, University Relations & Communications, 657-2266


Free and open to the public, the two-day event will be held April 10-11. For a complete schedule,  visit


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Recognizing a long history of distinguished service, the annual Montana State University Billings powwow will honor veterans at its 47th annual powwow April 10-11 in the Alterowitz Gymnasium on the university campus.


Bill Snell

Military service for Native American tribes is more than just a civic duty, said U.S. Marine Corps veteran William “Bill” Snell Jr., who is an enrolled member of the Crow Indian tribe and an Eastern Montana College alumnus. “For us, the warrior spirit is a way of life.”

The warrior tradition is instilled in children from a young age by parents and grandparents, Snell said. Stories of bravery and sacrifice are passed along in traditions such as song and dance.

“It’s in all of our teachings to protect our family and our nation,” Snell said. “But, it’s also very innate. It’s in our hearts.”

Presented by the MSUB Office of American Indian Outreach, “Honoring Our Veterans’ Warrior Spirit: Defending Our County, Our Freedom” is free and open to the public. 


The MSUB powwow is one of the oldest collegiate powwows in the state and one of the largest university-sponsored powwows in the Northwest. The two-day event attracts nearly 3,000 attendants annually with tribes across the country.


While visitors can expect the traditional Native American cultural dancing, drumming and displays that have become synonymous with the powwow, this year the Inter-tribal Indian Student Club will introduce a new tradition of an eagle feather staff will commence the grand entries to symbolize the visionary role of leaders during peace and war.


The staff, designed by MSUB alumni, students, tribal veterans and community members, is a straight staff wrapped in red trade cloth and buffalo fur, topped with a golden eagle. It’s adorned with 12 eagle feathers, each representative of each Montana tribe.


Kaja Anderson, the Inter-tribal Indian club’s president, said the group sent letters to each tribe requesting their input and approval.


Dennis Beaumont“It was important to us that the eagle staff was intertribal,” Anderson, of the Sioux tribe and a junior studying sociology and history with a minor in Native American studies, said.


“Honoring our veterans is a time-honored tradition in our heritage,” she said. “It’s important we are all patriotic and honor our vets, their bravery and the sacrifices they have made.”


The design and materials were supported with donations from Snell, Burt Medicine Bull, Don Good Voice and the American Indian Outreach staff.


The staff will be housed at the American Indian Outreach Office, with ownership of record belonging to the current Inter-tribal Indian Club president. The student Veteran Service Club serves as the guardian of the staff and conducts the change of command when a transfer of ownership occurs.


The powwow will commence Friday at 6 p.m. with the Grand Entry, led by the eagle staff carried by veterans and dignitaries from throughout the area. Grand Entry begins at Noon on Saturday. 


“The Eagle Staff is always presented ahead of any other flag,” Anderson said. “It has traditionally been the indicator of a tribe’s accomplishments in battle and the integrity and honor of its people.”


Flags from each Montana tribe and branches of the military will follow the staff as well as international flags representing more than 20 countries.


The Head Woman Dancer will be MSU Billings pre-nursing student Daralynn Bright Wings of the Crow tribe.


MSUB alumnus Sam “Buddy” Windy Boy, of the Crow and Chippewa Cree tribes, has been selected as the Head Man Dancer.


This year’s Head Gourd Dancer is Rolf Groseth, former MSUB chancellor.


The arena director is Walter Runsabove of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. Announcers are Melville Stops, Crow, on Friday, and Kacey Nicholson, Gros Ventre, an MSUB alumnus, on Saturday.


Other featured events include a basketball tournament and a three-on-three Chumash lacrosse tournament, played “Native style.”


MSUB Alumni Relations will host an alumni brunch on Saturday, April 11, at 9 a.m., in the College of Education, room 122.


To register for events or for additional information, contact the Office of American Indian Outreach at 657-2182 or visit


>  Download Powwow poster


Photo Captions: 

William F. Snell Jr.
Crow & Assiniboine
United States Marine Corp., 1971
EMC Alumnus, ‘ 81 Business Management


Dennis Beaumont
United States Navy, 1970-1973
Vietnam War
EMC Alumnus, ’83 Elementary Education