UNITY powwow raises $7,000 for Page High council
By Krista Allen
Special to the Times
PAGE, Ariz., April 26, 2012
(Special to the Times - Krista Allen)
"It depends on whom the sponsor is for (Page High's UNITY)," said Shannon Secody, the current sponsor. "So if they're active and willing to do the work - assembling a powwow - then they'll host one."
But she's no stranger to sponsoring powwows. She sponsored the UNITY powwow last year to make money to send the youth council to the 2011 National UNITY Conference that took place in Minneapolis.
"It takes a lot of time to organize a powwow," said Secody. "Mainly trying to advertise and getting sponsors to help out."
She said the powwow turned out well this year.
Twenty youth council members coordinated the event.
"My main part was to make the fry bread," said Arist Tso, youth council vice president who managed the concession stand. "I was able to make fry bread really good and to keep up with people's orders.
"I'd say I'm a good fry-bread maker, but my family wouldn't think so," he said of his job making Navajo tacos with other council members. "But it was great, it was good."
"It was great to conduct a powwow, to have the community come out and enjoy themselves," said Shawn Secody, the youth council president. "And for us to gain leadership that will help us in real-world situations."
Eagle Creek, Lickity Split, and Southern Soul pounded their drums in unison and sang at full volume for more than 100 dancers at the three grand entries.
Among the crowd's favorite was the teen boys fancy special.
"It's awesome," said Melvina Redhouse, from Dennehotso, Ariz., who watched her son, Sione, 11, perform thrilling moves. "I like it, it brings out the spirit in me."
Nevertheless, "there must be only one winner," said Dennis Bedoni, the master of ceremonies. "And the winner is, Ty Johnson."
Johnson, 17, from Chinle, won $300. He was adorned in a double bustle with ribbons and bright orange streamers that swirled around as he danced.
Shannon Secody explained that numerous sponsors compensate the winners.
"They don't donate directly to us," she said. "We go through a nonprofit organization called Navajo Heritage Foundation. They're the ones who pay out our winners."
Shannon Secody said the youth council raised $7,000, which will go toward room and board at the national UNITY conference in Phoenix July 6 to 10 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.
The national conference is one of the country's largest gatherings of American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 15 to 24. More than 150 youth councils from 35 states will come together to acquire leadership skills.