Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival to kick off Thursday

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Members from nearly 40 Native American tribes from across Oklahoma and the nation will descend onto downtown Bartlesville this week for one of the state's largest intertribal powwows.

During the Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival to begin this Thursday and to last through Sunday, American Indians will be celebrating their culture at the Bartlesville Community Center.

According to OIS Executive Board Chairman Dee Ketchum, to celebrate this 25th annual event the festival is bringing in Billy Mills — the only living Native American to win an Olympic gold medal — as a guest speaker.

During the 1964 Olympics, the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) set a world record for running 10,000 meters in 28 minutes and 24.4 seconds, earning him the gold medal for that race.

Ketchum said festival organizers are very excited to have an athlete the caliber of Billy Mills coming to Bartlesville.

"What also makes this double special is that this is an Olympic year and to have an Olympic champion in our midst is tremendous," she said.

Mills is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bartlesville Community Center's auditorium.

Also featured at this year's event, as last year's, will be an American Indian and Western juried art competition that will showcase in the community center the work of more than 30 artists throughout the weekend. Among the works to be displayed and available for purchase will be authentic American Indian sculpture, paintings, clothing, gourd art, pottery, wood sculpture, basket weaving, silverwork, beadwork, leather goods and more.

The annual intertribal powwow will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday with gourd dancing and continuing the same time on Saturday in the powwow arena, located in the parking lot of the Bartlesville Community Center.

The powwow will feature an adult dance competition including numerous categories such as women's cloth, buckskin, northern fancy shawl and jingle, men's straight, fancy and traditional and grass. There will be two age categories in the youth division, as well. Prize money will be awarded to the winners of all the dance competitions.

Admission to the festival is free. For more information on the Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival, click here .

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