"Johnny Sam had to make a choice between driving 408 miles to sing and dance at a powwow in Montana or staying home and saving gas.
“It's pretty hard these days,” said Sam who lives in White Swan, Wash. “The drum takes care of our gas money. If we get any money dancing, that's more fun. This summer we almost stayed home, but my mother-in-law lives over here.
“Gas hurts,” said Sam. “But we'll keep going.”
Sam is among the tens of thousands of powwow people across Indian Country who pack their drums and dance regalia for weekends of dancing and singing, typically logging thousands of highway miles each summer.
But even with gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon, most singers, dancers, vendors and spectators are still managing to attend dance celebrations. Filling up the tank is more difficult, though, so many are staying closer to home or finding someone to ride with them to split the cost.
Powwows connect many Native people with a wide social circle of friends and family. Others rely on income earned through drum or dance contests. Others sell arts, crafts, clothes or food.
At summer's start, Susan Robinson, her husband and four children packed their dance gear and left their home in Franklin, Tenn., near Nashville. So far, they've competed in powwows and visited family and friends in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.
The Robinsons recently set up camp at a powwow in Arlee, yet another stop before reaching their final destination, a powwow in Alberta, Canada. There aren't many Natives in Tennessee, Robinson said, so her family saved $5,000 for their 2,200-mile powwow road trip."
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Jodi Rave: High gas prices hinder powwows
(The Missoulian 7/17)