Pow Wow dancers

Two budding pow wow dancers showcase their skills during a competition in this Era file photo.

SALAMANCA, N.Y. — One of the most grand and enthusiastic celebrations of Native American culture will celebrate its 30th anniversary, when the Seneca Nation once again welcomes a national and international audience to Salamanca for the Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Powwow.

This year’s Powwow will take place at Veterans Park from July 19 to 21.

The annual three-day event will feature a series of exhilarating dance and drum competitions, including what is billed as North America’s biggest Smoke Dance contest, with competitors coming from across the United States and Canada. Over $100,000 in prize money will be awarded during the Powwow.

“Over the past 30 years, our powwow celebration has grown into a signature celebration, not only for the Seneca people, but for the growing number of competitors from across Indian Country who travel to our Allegany Territory each year to celebrate Native American culture,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr.

The Powwow honors Native American veterans and is named in honor of Marvin “Joe” Curry, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Snipe Clan, who led a long and distinguished career of military service in the United States Navy. Curry served two tours of duty in the Korean War and also served in the Vietnam War. In all, he served on eight warships, including the U.S.S. Little Rock during his military career. After completing his military service as a Chief Warrant Officer in the 1970s, Curry served as ship superintendent of the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park for several years before retiring in 1997. He was a strong advocate of veterans’ causes who served the United States and the Seneca Nation of Indians with pride and valor throughout his life. Curry passed away in 2010.

“Our veterans hold a special place of honor in our community and deserve our recognition and gratitude,” Armstrong said. “Nobody embodied the virtues of a warrior, and cared more about supporting his fellow veterans than Joe Curry.”

The Seneca Nation invites everyone to attend the event and enjoy the weekend-long festivities and competitions.

Contests will feature several dance styles from various tribes attending the event, including the Iroquois Smoke dance, as well as Fancy Dance, Grass Dance, Traditional Dance, and Jingle Dance. In addition to the dance competitions, the Powwow will also feature the Drum Contest and Hand Drum competition.

Special competitions and events will include the Gold Star Special and Blue Star Special dance competitions, honoring Gold Star and Blue Star families, respectively; the Color Guard Special Honoring; the Kyle Dowdy Sr. Memorial War Dance Showdown; and many more.

“The excitement of the competitions and the family atmosphere truly make the powwow a community celebration unlike any other,” said Seneca Nation Councilor Tina Abrams, co-chair of this year’s Powwow committee. “We invite our friends and neighbors from throughout the area to come and share in this special celebration of culture, competition and friendship with us.”

Powwow attendees can also enjoy a Cultural Tent, where they can make authentic crafts and learn about Seneca and Native culture, including many of the different dance styles that will be featured throughout the weekend. Native crafts, artwork, and food will be available from a wide variety of vendors throughout the weekend.

Daily admission is $10 for adults and weekend passes are available for $20. Admission for students age 5-17 and seniors age 60 and older is just $5. Veterans and military personnel (with valid ID) and children age 4 and younger will be admitted free of charge. On Friday, gates will open at 10 a.m. and Grand Entry is scheduled for 2 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, gates open at 10:00 a.m. and Grand Entry is at Noon. Winners will be announced on Sunday evening, before the conclusion of the Powwow.

The Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Powwow is being sponsored by Seneca Nation Veterans Iroquois Post #1587, the Seneca Nation, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino, and local businesses. For a complete schedule, registration and other information, visit www.SenecaPowWow.org or call (716) 532-8333.

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