Harlan McKosato: Gathering of Nations is worth admission price

The 33rd annual Gathering of Nations was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in late April. The popular event is moving to a new venue in town in 2017. Photo from Facebook

Don't like the Gathering of Nations, the popular powwow held every year in New Mexico? Then don't go, argues journalist Harlan McKosato:
I have noticed one thing, despite all the complaints I hear about the costs involved with the GON – it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year.

When I hear Native people bitchin’ and moaning about the price of admission, parking fees or anything else involved with the costs of attending the Gathering, I always reply, “Then don't go.” Why in the world would you keep going to an event if you thought you were somehow being ripped off, exploited or defrauded by its organizers? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Let me cut to the gist of the story. That’s an argument from GoN naysayers that I’ve never quite understood. I think a lot of it has to do with envy and jealousy. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Derek Matthews is a black man – although he has stated to me in past interviews that he has Native ancestry.

The worst of the criticism towards the GoN is that they are exploiting Native culture and Native people. When I talk to people about this, the question I always ask is “are Native people that naïve?” This powwow is all about making money. If you don’t get that then maybe you are being exploited. Maybe you’re not doing your homework.

Also there is a lot of criticism about the Miss Indian World pageant. Word on the street is that contestants have to pay $5k to enter the contest. I am unaware of any proof of that – I was unable to speak with the Matthews family on this matter. But would you allow your daughter or niece to enter the Miss Indian World pageant if she had to raise $5k? Talk about being naïve.

Get the Story:
Harlan McKosato: Gathering of Nations Complaints? Then Don't Go (Indian Country Today 6/20)

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