Eric Watchman Rocklyn Merrick danced in a promotional video for the Powwow.

The Red Canyon Powwow is back for a second year at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. The powwow, hosted by the nonprofit Indigenous Health and Wellness Connections, will showcase Indigenous dancers and singers. 

“We have some really talented singers and dancers coming from all over Indian Country so we’re really excited to help build that bridge between the Indigenous realm and the greater community,” said Jacob Crane, an event organizer. 

This year’s powwow will be a contest—dancers are coming from all over the region to compete in a number of events, including the men’s traditional 18+, which offers a $2,000 cash prize; the all-ages men’s traditional; the women’s jingle, which on Saturday will be contemporary, on Sunday will be old style; and the old style women’s jingle dress. 

Crane said the head talents are a “really solid lineup”: the master of ceremony is Bart Powaukee, from Fort Duchesne; the arena director is Randal Paskemin, from Sweetgrass, Saskatchewan; the host drum is Blackstone, a group from the Plains Cree territory; the head woman is Paula Weaselhead, from Kainai, Alberta; and the head man is Michael Tasso, from South Heber, Utah. 

“These kinds of events are geared toward building community, and building bridges between communities … we’re trying to really create a safe space for folks to come and celebrate together,” Crane said. He and the other event organizers chose Moab as their starting location because “there’s not a strong Indigenous representation within Moab,”—while Indigenous people do live in Moab, the culture can feel drowned out, he said.

In addition to the dance and drum ceremonies, there will be artisan and food vendors at the powwow—many of the vendors are returning from last year. All artisan and food vendors are from Indigenous communities. 

“We want to welcome the community of Moab and Grand County to come out and support the small businesses and the artists that are set up at the powwow—showing up is practicing reciprocity,” Crane said. “For this entire area, being a local in Moab is a big thing, but we have to remember that even the locals are occupying Indigenous lands. This is the start of those conversations.” 

Eventually, Crane said, the powwow will move on from Moab: as it grows, it will become its own nonprofit, building funds to eventually tour around the state. 

“We’re trying to make the event sustainable,” he said. 

General admission for the weekend is $10. Gates open at 11 a.m.; grand entry events will occur at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday. The event is outside: participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and umbrellas for shade.