Public Invited to Celebrate Native Culture During Annual Kyi-Yo Powwow

April 10, 2015

MISSOULA – Some of the best Native American dancers and drum groups in North America will gather at the University of Montana for the 47th annual Kyi-Yo Celebration on Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, at the UM Adams Center.

Hosted by the Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association, the event is one of the oldest student-run powwows in the country and allows the Native American community to share its culture with the UM campus and the city of Missoula through traditional dance and song.  

The theme this year is “We are Montana.” Student club members are proud to be a link between the Native American community and UM. Club members believe Native culture and history in Montana are important parts of the state’s identity and ones that should continue to be celebrated by future generations.

The first Grand Entry event will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, April 17. Saturday Grand Entry times are noon and 7 p.m.

Head dancers at this year’s powwow are UM alumni Dustin Whitford and Michelle Guzman. Guzman also is the current academic adviser for the Native American Studies Department at UM. Standing Horse, last year’s drum contest winner, will be this year’s host drum. Ruben Little Head will return as Master of Ceremonies along with longtime Honorary Master of Ceremonies Chief Earl Old Person.

General admission session passes cost $5 and weekend passes cost $12. One session will be offered Friday and two sessions will be offered Saturday. Seniors age 65 and older and children age 6 and younger get in free. Dancer registration costs $5, and drum registration for 10 passes costs $50. Tickets and passes can be purchased at the door, online at, at all GrizTix locations or by calling 406-243-4051.

At 9 a.m. Friday morning before the powwow, UM’s Sacred Roots Language Society will host the “Save our Languages Run!” The 5K run and walk includes a 1-mile children’s run and aims to build awareness for Native American languages. The race begins where the pedestrian crossing meets the Kim Williams Trail. Preregistration for the 5K race costs $20 and is available until the day of the run, while registration the day of the race costs $25. Runners will be honored at the Kyi-Yo Powwow, and more information can be found online at

The Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association plays an integral role in promoting the cultural traditions and customs of all Native Americans. Through extracurricular activities offered throughout the year, Kyi-Yo engages the faculty and students of UM in the cultural identities of Native Americans to support cultural diversity at UM. Kyi-Yo is open to all Native American and non-native students, as well as any community members who wish to become members. The club is a chartered member of the Associated Students of UM.

Costs of the powwow have risen substantially in recent years. To counteract these costs, the club actively fundraises year round. Top fundraisers include Indian taco sales and Kyi-Yo’s own athletic line of “Native Griz” apparel. Iva Croff, a UM graduate student and former club member, drafted a resolution to add a $1 fee to student registration bill to help create a long-term solution to powwow funding. ASUM senate passed this resolution unanimously, and the initiative will appear on the student ballot this spring. If the resolution passes, it will proceed to the Board of Regents for approval.

The Missoula County Public School’s Indian Education Department and Title VII Parent Association will provide volunteers at the powwow to support the event. The Indian Education Department and the Parent Advisory Committee also will host a raffle table at the powwow.  This year they are raffling a star quilt.  The proceeds will pay for the metal feathers gifted to each MCPS Native American senior at the Native American Senior Dinner in May. These feathers are crafted by Moses Yellowrobe II, a local artist,  for MCPS graduating seniors.  MCPS honors Native graduating seniors at the annual senior dinner on Thursday, May 21.

UM's Native American Student Association provides free tickets to the powwow for all MCPS fourth-grade students. “We value the opportunity to connect our fourth-grade students because our curriculum includes powwows,” said Cathie Cichosz, Native American specialist.  

For more information on powwow events, visit, email Kyi-Yo Co-President Amber Shaffer at or visit the Kyi-Yo Facebook page at

Contact: Amber Shaffer, co-president, Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association,