The 43rd annual Kyi-Yo powwow at the University of Montana will be held April 15 and 16 in the Adams Center. It’s a staple of spring events in Missoula.
As the Kaimin reports, it’s recovering this year from a funding debacle that left drummers and dancers without prize money while the university floundered to cover its part of the pot.
Here’s Heidi Grovers, of the Kaimin’s story:
When Dustin Monroe approaches Missoula business owners and asks them to donate to this year’s Kyi-Yo Powwow, he knows it won’t be an easy sell.
He comes prepared with a budget and his most earnest explanation of what his club is doing to prepare for one of the largest events on The University of Montana campus.
The Kyi-Yo Powwow is an irreplaceable event, but one with a tainted reputation after fundraising and organizing efforts fell short last year, Monroe said.
“A lot of people in the community blamed all UM native students, not just the Kyi-Yo organizers,” said Monroe, who is a graduate of the UM School of Business and vice president of this year’s Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association, which organizes the powwow. “A lot of students who were not involved before are taking on the personal challenge this year to make sure it succeeds.”
On the final night of last year’s powwow, organizers faced a booing crowd when they realized they didn’t have enough funds to pay prize money to winning drummers and dancers, or to the non-contest drummers who played throughout the event. The group paid out smaller-than-usual prize amounts, but the University covered the shortfall the next week.
A campus-wide e-mail from the office of the vice president for student affairs apologized to the “greater Native American community” and announced that the University would cover the budget shortfalls. University officials said there had been miscommunications with the group, but organizers blamed the University administrators for not providing funding they had promised.
This year, administrators and student organizers said they are moving past the mishap and focusing on the 43rd annual powwow, which will be held April 15 and 16 in the Adams Center.
So far, the student group has raised about $34,000 for the event from on-campus and community donors, selling a line of “Native Griz” t-shirts and holding bake sales every other week, Monroe said. The group will hold its annual basketball tournament, one of the most profitable fundraisers for the powwow, during the powwow instead of before the event, as they have in previous years, he said.
UM President Royce Engstrom said he led an effort to raise $25,000 from departmental budgets across campus to support the powwow. That amount is higher than the administration’s average contribution, he said.
“It’s an important part of who we are and we want to make sure we are welcoming and encouraging to an event that celebrates such an important tradition,” Engstrom said.
Robert Duringer, vice president for administration and finance, said he and three other vice presidents contributed $5,000 each from their budgets and that Engstrom contributed the other $5,000.
When it comes to how much support Kyi-Yo organizers need from the University, every year is different, Duringer said.
“It all depends on how skillful the Kyi-Yo officers are,” Duringer said. “Some years they are pretty savvy, but others can be pretty naive and let costs get away from them pretty fast.”
Monroe said the powwow is an opportunity for Native Americans to come together and for all students to get a glimpse of native culture. He said he is confident in his group’s organizing abilities to restore the powwow’s reputation and continue its positive impact on campus.
“I think this year will be one of best years we’ve ever had just due to the students,” Monroe said. “Working with other students has showed me how we as Native Americans and as a Missoula community can come together and overcome obstacles.”
More information and a form to donate to the powwow can be found at http://umt.edu/kyiyo.