Havre Daily News
The Chippewa Cree Tribe has hired a promoter to help lasso sponsorships from major U.S. corporations for this year's Rocky Boy's Pow-Wow and rodeo.
The tribal council made that decision so the tribal government no longer has to subsidize the annual celebration, which draws thousands of visitors.
Another reason for the partnership with REX Media is time.
“Most of the volunteers we do have are all working people and family people,” said Richard Sangrey, president of the tribe's events committee and tribal chief of staff. “We have fundraising events on weekends and members don't have time for their own families.”
The average total cost of the powwow, held each year in August, is about $50,000, he said. Only about $12,000 has been raised so far.
Sangrey said it has been years since the costs of the annual powwow and a winter powwow have been covered solely with fundraising.
The tribe will pay REX Media, a Virginia-based promoter, 20 percent of the money the company raises, Sangrey said.
REX Media president Susan Clancy said in an e-mail that the business is primarily looking for a corporation to sponsor the prize money and trophies for the powwow, which includes dance competitions, a handgame tournament and a rodeo.
“We hope to obtain corporate sponsorship for the event from major corporations and are approaching Dodge, Chevrolet, Phillip-Morris, Altria, McDonalds, and Cell phone corporations such as Cellular One, Cingular, and Sprint/Nextel,” Clancy wrote.
Clancy said the four-employee business is planning to design a Web site to promote the powwow. At the site, visitors will be able to purchase rodeo tickets and view detailed information such as rodeo schedules, and listings of craft exhibitors and other vendors.
Lloyd Top Sky, a former chair of the powwow committee, said the tribal council's decision reflects overall changes in the powwow, an event that has grown in size and cost over the years.
Top Sky said that historically within the tribe, sponsoring a powwow was considered a matter of honor and spirituality. People would donate a side of beef, he said, but “the events are getting so big now one beef wouldn't really help.”
Powwow fundraising has been at a “cookie sale” level over the years with main sources of revenue being raffles and advertising in event programs, he said. Friends of the 2004 Rocky Boy Powwow made almost $30,000, he added.
Top Sky said he thinks the tribe needs another year to see funds from corporations and doesn't think “it'll happen by August.”
“I sure hope the corporations can come through,” he added.
Russell Standing Rock, who helped organize last year's powwow, said the tribe will probably get corporate money but “it's not right, it's not good.”
He said he would be happier if fundraising was done more traditionally.
“I'm against it. First thing they are going to do is go to Budweiser and Coors,” Standing Rock said. “The bottom line is we're not going to have tradition and culture the way that it should be.”
He said many tribes are losing their identity and some “think because you have a powwow, you're traditional.”
“Money does not buy religion, culture and language,” Standing Rock said. “My mother and dad originally started the Rocky Boy celebration in 1964. The purpose behind the celebration was to celebrate the 50th birthday of Rocky Boy and so people could give thanks for the reservation.”
Standing Rock said tribal members were traditionally supposed to labor in some way to raise money.
“It should be a community effort,” he said. “My mother and father raised every dime.”
Sangrey said the events committee he chairs, which formed in November, will continue fundraising.
“There's a lot of money to be raised,” he said.