One of the best parts of living in Montana is our amazing tribes and their cultures, especially when it comes to the color and spirit of the powwow.

But for the average person, it isn't always easy to follow the schedule for these tribal celebrations. Or, because many are held in small reservation towns, some might not be as comfortable attending (although I've always been welcomed and made many friends over the years).

One of the best options has been attending the Kyiyo Pow Wow at the University of Montana. However, sometimes the cost of taking an entire group might be too much for some families.

That's going to change this coming weekend.

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One of the nation's best

The Kyiyo Pow Wow draws tribal dancers from all over the region and is one of the longest-running student-led powwows in the U.S. The two-day event, set this year for Friday and Saturday, April 19th and 20th at the University of Montana, is an enthusiastic celebration of the tribes' cultural heritage and importance to the region.

The event, which has been running for 55 years, attracts hundreds of dancers and drummers from all across the country. There's singing and dancing, storytelling, food and other events.

RELATED: UM Endowment Supports Long-running Tradition

And now, it's free

This year, the organizers have decided to make a major change, making the event free admission.

“This year, the committee sat down and decided our major goal was to make Kyiyo free,” said UM student and Kyiyo Native American Student Association member O’Shay Birdinground.

“And with the determination of our five-person crew we did it, we achieved what we thought couldn’t be done.”

A very special reason this year

Three years ago, UM. established a $300,000 endowment to support the powwow in perpetuity to honor legendary Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 92. Old Person will be honored as the Honorary Master of Ceremony.

Chief Earl Old Person,Photo Credit: James McNeely
Chief Earl Old Person,Photo Credit: James McNeely

Grand entry times at the Adams Center are scheduled for 6 pm Friday and at noon and 6 pm on Saturday.

For questions about specials, entries, or other information, email More information is online at

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