Powwow in Grand Forks

By Shigeyo Henriquez

When I found about the powwow in Grand Forks, North Dakota I mentioned it to the taiko drummers. They were excited and wanted to see it. Saturday, April 9th was our day off and we didn’t need to get to Valley City until Sunday evening. I asked Ken if we could detour to see the powwow.

Ken was very supportive so we drove to Grand Forks. As I imagined, especially the taiko drummers were so thrilled to see so many Native American in their traditional costumes dancing around the arena with the sound of drumming.

The powwow was very fascinating. The ensemble felt lucky to be able to see a real powwow. They have traveled all over the world to perform. They move on right after the performance, without having a chance to see local, cultural events. They were very appreciative of this rare opportunity!

During the Grand Entry ceremony, the drum circles start drumming and singing. Many people in from the tribe in traditional costumes entered the arena, dancing. We were mesmerized by the colorful costumes and sounds of drums and song.

Taiko drummers, Hase and Okada, later had a chance to try the drums with the leader of the Red Lakes tribe. According to the rules of drumming women are not allowed in the circle. I respected the tradition and stood by and watched them drum. But, oh how I wish I could bang the drum!

We had a great time in Grand Forks. We left early afternoon of Sunday, April 10 for Valley City.

As we got closer to Fargo, we ran into very slow traffic on Interstate 29 (I-29). There was a sign posted by the road that said, “high water on road for next 13 miles.” The traffic was slow, but we didn’t know how serious it was.

Then, the water was getting deeper and deeper. The only thing we could see was miles of flooded fields. I followed the truck in front of me, glued to it. It had to be almost an hour of slow driving in the deep water. We were not only nervous, we were scared for our lives.

The water was so deep that we couldn’t see the lines on the highway. No one said anything until we finally came to where the water was no longer a threat. Phew!!! Sigh of relief, we made it. We found out that only a few hours later I-29 was shut down and still was closed as on Friday, April 15th.

Many people in colorful Native American costumes fill a gymnasium
Grand Entry ceremony at the powwow
Three men seated around a drum
Taiko drummers Hase and Okada with the Red Lakes tribe leader
Taiko drummer poses with men in traditional Native American costumes
Nozaki, pianist, felt honored to have his picture taken with these gentlemen in their colorful, hand-beaded costumes.
Flooded highway
Flood waters on I-29


The powwow in Grand Forks, North Dakota sounds pretty amazing. I would love to see a real powwow with Taiko drummers. I am doing some research on Shickasaw history and was wondering if you knew anything about them. Do you know if the Chickasaw had powwows? Thanks for your help with my research.

I am not surprised by that reaction. Even I would have been thrilled to see so many Native American in their traditional costumes dancing around the arena with the sound of drumming. Anyways thanks a lot for the update. Keep sharing.
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