Gathering of Nations 2024, New Mexico

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Melissa M. Gonzalez
May 27, 2024

Photo: Lenni-Lenape Family at Nanticoke Powwow, Wikimedia Commons

by Melissa Gonzales

The Gathering of Nations is renowned for being one of the largest gatherings, with over 500 Nations coming together for days of meticulously planned festivities. The Miss Indian World pageant provided a unique experience with highly educated contestants, showcasing talents that go beyond the typical pageant skills.

Attending this pow-wow was a dream come true for me, as I had always wanted to go since I was younger. It involved months of budgeting, planning, and a 12-hour journey by vehicle. With only a few hours of sleep and plenty of caffeine to keep me going, we stayed with relatives and a friend in Taos for one night to rest before the event, which was two hours away from Taos.

I saw this trip as a mini-break from the past year of carefully balancing home, school, and potential career opportunities. Taos, situated on Pueblo land, was exceptionally beautiful, making this my favorite trip to New Mexico thus far.

Accommodations in Albuquerque were decent and conveniently located. Despite the anxiety I felt leading up to the event, I made a conscious decision to leave my regalia in Taos and simply immerse myself in the experience.

Among the international attendees, the craftsmanship of custom regalia was ubiquitous. There was a wide array of vendors and information booths offering valuable insights. However, I couldn’t help but notice that some vendors were not mindful of ethical practices, particularly in sourcing materials. As someone deeply connected to my culture and teachings, I believe in respecting all aspects of nature and giving thanks to the creator for providing.

Growing up, I learned to appreciate the old ways of life, where nothing was wasted, and everything served a purpose. This mindset became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when reliance on supermarkets highlighted our dependency on external sources for sustenance. I’ve acquired various skills such asself-canning, food preservation, and gardening, with the hope of one day achieving self-sustainability.

While attending the Gathering of Nations, I was reminded of the importance of planning ahead and adhering to venue guidelines. Security measures were stringent, with crowd control and metal detectors in place.

Though I didn’t participate in the dancing this time, I found solace in watching others. Dancing has always been a significant part of my life, and I dance to honor, pray, heal, and soothe. Next year, I hope to plan my participation better.

Overall, the Gathering of Nations was an enriching experience, and I eagerly anticipate returning next year to continue my journey.


Author: Melissa M. Gonzalez