March 26, 2018


young Powwow dancers in full regalia


50th Annual MSU Billings Powwow starts April 6

Anniversary event takes place in Alterowitz Gymnasium on April 6-7. Public welcome to attend. Full agenda available here.



Reno Charette, Director of American Indian Outreach, 657-2144
University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings will host the 50th Annual MSUB Powwow, which will commence with the Grand Entry at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 6 and continues through Saturday, April 7, starting at noon and wrapping up with a Winners Ceremony near midnight.


“We are the oldest college powwow in the state of Montana” shared Director of the Native American Achievement Center, Reno Charette. “Our MSUB Powwow is one of the largest student-led American Indian events in the Northwest.” Past powwows have drawn almost 2,800 attendees from Native American nations in Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Canada, as well as all of Montana’s tribal nations.


Powwows are held nationwide with the purpose of sharing and renewing the culture and rich heritage of American Indians. The event shines a spotlight on native culture and is open to the public, free of charge.


For the 50th celebration, MSUB’s Yellowjacket (Buzz) logo, was restyled. “This anniversary event launches the new ‘Native Buzz’ official logo,” shared Charette. “Everyone is very excited about this logo. We will continue to use it for years to come.”


MSUB alumnus Kasey Nicholson, with Aaniiih tribe of Fort Belknap, will emcee the event. Multiple events are planned in conjunction with the 50th Annual MSUB Powwow. Some of these include:

  • The Grand Entry will include 50 flags representing the U.S.A., Montana, every military branch, all of Montana’s Tribes, 20 international countries, and the five MSUB colleges. The Crow and Northern Cheyenne color guard will present the flags.
  • The agenda for this year is a social powwow. There will be owl, push, boot and hat, team, chicken, clown, and Veterans’ dances; all of which are competition style dances with cash prizes awarded to the top winners. Typically, about 500 dancers enter the competition.
  • Friday evening at 7 p.m. in Petro Theatre there will be a concert by Scatter Their Own with opening act, Arterial Drive. Admission to the concert is $10.
  • Marita Growing Thunder will display her handmade dresses that she created to bring attention to the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women. Her dress-making endeavor began while she was a senior in high school and in one year she made close to 200 dresses. MSUB alumna, Bonny Beth Luhman, is curating the dress exhibit.
  • An alumni breakfast is being hosted and sponsored by Kelcey Packineau, a long-time supporter of MSUB and the powwow. Packineau, whose Indian name is Bears Heart, is a retired police office and owner of Kill Thunder Inc. He is a member of Blackmouth Society, traditional policing function with Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribes; as well as of Prairie Chicken clan of the Mandan. He is a traditional dancer, who wears a dog soldier hat.
  • A variety of vendors from across the region will be on hand on the main floor with a menagerie of American Indian items for sale.
  • A large-screen presentation of pictures of all of the Native Americans who have attended Eastern Montana College and MSUB.
  • New this year are audience contests for spectators that will occur on Saturday (longest hair, best earrings, best medallion, best belt buckle, etc.) This recognizes popular styles of contemporary dress among Natives and aims to involve more people in the celebration.
  • A digital storytelling workshop will be held. It will teach how to incorporate still photography into storyboards, add music, and then enhance with text and transitions. Open to the public, the two-day workshop will be held in MSUB’s Library Room 231. The cost is $75; ten MSUB students can attend for free via scholarships.

“The 50th anniversary of the Powwow at MSUB is another great reminder that American Indian students have been and continue to be an important part of our campus community. These students play important roles designing and running this event. To help other students make connections to the Powwow, faculty in a number of disciplines have incorporated Powwow assignments into their curricula,” commented MSU Billings Interim Chancellor Dr. Ron Larsen. “We are proud of these student efforts and to be the host of the 50th Powwow celebration. We encourage the public to come and enjoy this cultural cornerstone event.”  


Event partners include: St. Vincent Healthcare, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council, Wells Fargo Bank, First Congregational Church, Little Horn State Bank, Ashley Bear Crane family, Fred and Bernadette Charette, Cheyenne Depot, Riverstone Health, Great Plains Gathering Church, Associated Students of MSUB, Smoke Signals, Billings Public School District Two, Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County, Intertribal Indian Club, Billings School District II – Office of Indian Education, MSUB Foundation, Custer Battlefield Trading Post, and Buffalo Chips.


»» Download Powwow poster

»» Scatter Their Own concert poster

»» Marita Growing Thunder poster