Official statements regarding the cancellation of the 2020 Gathering of Nations Powwow 

Head Dancers stand together for the Victory Song as the Gathering of Nations Powwow comes to a close in Albuquerque, N.M. The annual event was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, but will return to EXPO New Mexico in the spring of 2021.
Photo Credit: Staff report | The Southern Ute Drum

It’s been one week, and it is still very surreal and unimaginable. Like many other large events, we have learned that not only is it difficult to produce an enormous event, it is even more difficult to cancel it. This is a devastating time for us all, for our support staff, dancers, singers, artisans, food vendors, musicians, dance groups, horse riders, contracted services, Expo New Mexico and for independent events & conferences that have been planned around Albuquerque during “GON week.”  

The ordered and swift postponement of all large events by the Governor of New Mexico (on State of New Mexico property) due to COVID-19 concerns was effective immediately which we all agree was the right thing to do. When the news broke it was and still has been impossible to communicate individually with everyone on their concerns and questions, and we understand this has caused disappointment and frustration. Through social media we also are aware there were questions about processes however we, as with other large events, needed to create official statements and put new processes in place. 

The primary decision last week was if this would be a postponement or a cancellation. At the time no one can realistically reschedule due to the uncertainty and uncontained rapid spread of COVID-19. As a part of creating new processes, the decision was then made to cancel and shift gears and plan for April 22-24, 2021. A couple of days later, it was then announced this health concern has officially become a global pandemic, very frightening and once again confirming cancellation was the right decision. Like yourselves, this whole situation has hit us hard and shaken us to the foundation as individuals and as event organizers. We immediately thought of the hundreds of people who help make Gathering of Nations and it’s programs; Miss Indian World, Stage 49, Indian Traders Market (and more) what they are….extraordinary and special and we are thankful to you all.  

Because Gathering of Nations is unique and in the large international event category, the cancellation ripple effect has taken its toll and continues to do so. We feel for other Native events that also have had to cancel. We are a powwow, and also have festival activities … we are also a part of our Native communities and the Powwow Circle… cancellation of any Native event may be more personal and emotional for many and we thank you for understanding this and we understand your point of view too when it feels we aren’t responding quickly enough.  

We, and the dedicated people who support GON, do so keeping the happiness, community, and empowerment of the people, especially elders and youth, in mind. We appreciate and are thankful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received (even the criticism as this can become productive ways to improve) and it has been both overwhelming and humbling. 

Everything right now is step by step, and we are receiving advice and support as we sort out the very long lists of needed tasks. For updated and official information please refer to our website and official social media, the information will be added as available. While we’re still working on organizing the detailed path forward, we like other powwows and events will keep hopeful and plan for 2021. Additionally, we are creating online programming during what would have been the 2020 Gathering of Nations weekend, our current Miss Indian World’s reign has been extended to 2021, we are creating an Indian Traders Market online page with vendor information and announcing the Stage 49 Entertainers. Throughout this situation, we must all keep the larger perspective, unite, support each other and do what is necessary to protect the health of loved ones and humankind in general.   

To our 2020 ticket holders, we appreciate your patience. Information will be shared and updated here: Although the ticketing policy has always been no refunds, due to this unprecedented situation, we are offering the following: Your ticket will be good though 2021 and 2022 and you will be sent an electronic gift card (e-gift) for the amount of your ticket purchase (minus processing fees). You will receive an email with detailed information.  

Gathering of Nations is especially keeping other powwows in mind as they tackle their processes and sends encouragement to all. Lastly, we send our prayers for spiritual and physical healing and protection to all. Thank you to our leaders, medicine people, people in the health fields. Take care of each other, please practice social distancing, stay home and enjoy your families. We will look forward to the time we can all gather together again and share our Pow wow songs and dances. 

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