All-Indian Pow wow 1966 cover    All-Indian Pow wow 1969 cover    All-Indian Pow wow 1979 cover

Final years of the Pow Wow

For many local, national, and international guests, Flagstaff was synonymous with the Flagstaff All-Indian Pow-Wow. Over 90,000 visitors and 10,000 invited Native Americans congregated yearly in the small town of 19,000 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These attendance figures represent the height of the festival’s popularity. While this influx of visitors put some strain on facilities and accommodations, the local business community blossomed and realized some of its most significant yearly profits during the Pow-Wow.

Increased visitation also brought a darker side to the festivities. During the three-day event, crime rates skyrocketed: heavy alcohol consumption often led to fighting, vagrancy, and public intoxication, while overcrowding in City Park created unsanitary conditions and excessive noise for adjacent homeowners.

Politically, changing attitudes towards the marketing of Native cultures for entertainment captured the community’s attention. At the 1972 Pow-Wow, demonstrators with the American Indian Movement (AIM) rushed the announcer’s booth to protest the perceived exploitation of Native Americans. Ten arrests were made in the ensuing tumult. As a result of the unresolved controversy, the 1973 Pow-Wow was cancelled.

After scaled-back alterations to the Pow-Wows were made from 1974-1976, the organizational committee was forced to locate an alternate venue after the City of Flagstaff rejected any future gatherings at City Park. The committee contracted with Fort Tuthill, 2 miles south of Flagstaff, in favor of its ample space for all events as well as generous parking space. Attendance from 1977-1979 dropped due to the more remote location. Despite attempts to improve the situation and locate an alternate venue closer to town, the Pow-Wow was formally cancelled in 1980, one year after its 50th anniversary.


Introduction  |  Early years  |  Recollections  |  Language  |  Final years