Annual tribal gathering canceled for lack of funds

Tooele, Utah (AP) 10-08

A shortage of funds forced the cancellation of an American Indian powwow that for 15 years had been part of the annual Festival of the Old West.

Powwow chairwoman Donna Chavez said private donations have typically filled the gap as funding from sources such as the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce declined.

But this year the $10,000 to produce the powwow couldn’t be raised.

“There’s nothing I can do if I don’t get support from the community and businesses,” said Chavez, who has been involved with the event for 14 years. “I’m at a standstill.”


The bulk of the powwow budget – $6,000 – was prize money for contestants of dancing competition. The rest is used for operational costs, stipends for scorekeepers and advertising.

Chavez said she was about $4,000 short for the 2008 event, but could only generate another $1,500 to help close the gap.

Now Chavez says she’ll give up organizing the event, something she’s done on a voluntary basis.

“I’m tired of stressing and trying to raise money,” she said. “It’s not that I wanted to cancel it, I just could not raise the money. Every penny I ever got went to the powwow. I was lucky to have $100 (carryover) in the bank for the next year.”

She said she fears the loss of the powwow, which draws between 2,000 and 3,000 spectators, could jeopardize the overall festival.

Blair Hope, who chairs the Old West event, said last weekend’s festival was a success even without the powwow. If Chavez doesn’t return for 2009, Hope said he’ll try to find the funding to restore the powwow as a festival event.