New Mexico's Contentious 'Pot Powwow'

A cannabis company believes the pot industry could save tribal nations from poverty. But many argue it would only make a drug problem worse.

“You going to Gathering this year?”

Most Native people have heard this question. Short for the Gathering of Nations, the “Gathering” is the largest powwow in North America—one of few pan-Indian cultural fixtures shared by nearly every indigenous group on the continent. Thousands of people from hundreds of tribal nations show up in Albuquerque each year to experience it.

Unlike a traditional powwow, where no commercialization is involved, the Gathering is a contest powwow.  More than a display of culture, it is a massive, showy, fiercely competitive athletic event. Dancers are divided into age groups and categories like jingle, fancy, grass, and traditional, and are judged based on style, rhythm, intricacy of regalia, and creativity. Competitors are eligible to win thousands in prize money. For many,...

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