Annual Stewart Father’s Day Pow Wow Canceled Due to COVID-19

June event too soon to bring thousands together for cultural event

Carson City, Nev. – Despite successful COVID-19 vaccination rollouts, notable reduction in active cases and the allowable capacity for large gatherings increased, the Nevada Indian Commission will cancel the 2021 Stewart Father’s Day Pow Wow.

“Even though our medical experts and the scientists indicate that the current health crisis seems to be lessening, out of an abundance of caution, specifically for the safety of our elders, we again will cancel our annual pow wow,” said Stacey Montooth, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “We arrived at this consensus decision with input from our elders, commissioners, committee members and our staff.”

Since Father’s Day 2003, thousands of people have attended the pow wow at the former Stewart Indian School, which erupts with righteous energy provided by hundreds of colorfully dressed dancers, an unwavering pulse of drum groups, the healing of spiritual singers, along with arts, crafts, and food vendors. The three-day event brings over 3,000 spectators to the campus.

However, American Indians have experienced disproportionate rates of infection and mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the APM Research Lab funded by Dorsey & Whitney Foundation, nationwide one in every 475 Native Americans has died from COVID since March 2020.

To date, Nevada has administered nearly 3 million tests since last March, and currently most of the Tribal health clinics are offering vaccinations for all community members regardless of age or underlying health conditions, as exposure to the virus is especially severe for Native Americans.

“During these still anxious months, we cannot risk the well-being of our dancers, singers, any participant or spectator,” Montooth said. “However, with strong resolve, the Nevada Indian Commission looks forward to orchestrating the biggest, best pow wow at our campus in 2022.”

In addition, as the health crisis subsides, Montooth wants to remind the public that visitors are welcome at the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum in Carson City. With state-recommended health and safety guides in place, the museum will continue to provide first-hand accounts of the Native American alumni and students, and how the federal policy of forced assimilation still reverberates in Native communities today. In addition to the permanent exhibition, “Our Home, Our Relations,” the Cultural Center & Museum features the Wa-Pai-Shone Gallery, displaying art of the Great Basin Native Artists; the Storytelling Room for storytelling and craft making; a research room where relatives can research their family members who attended Stewart; and classroom space for educational activities, lectures, and public programs.

Further, visitors still can experience the Stewart campus by cellphone audio tour. This walking tour allows guests to view the spectacular physical site and to learn from alumni about their experience at the boarding school.  These authentic accounts are also available on-line at:

For more information about the Stewart Father’s Day Pow Wow, the Nevada Indian Commission or the Stewart Indian Cultural Center & Museum, please contact Stacey Montooth, Executive Director, at 775-687-8333 or e-mail at [email protected].

Editors: for images of the Stewart Father’s Day Pow Wow, click here.


The Nevada Indian Commission (NIC) serves approximately 22,000 citizens of 27 federally recognized Tribal Nations, plus an additional 50,000 self-identified Native Americans who make the Silver State their home. Nevada’s Native American communities vary greatly in their respective languages, songs, traditional foods, and Indigenous territories. Created by statute in 1965 to “study matters affecting the social and economic welfare and well-being of American Indians residing in Nevada,” the Commission effectively serves as a liaison between the State and our Tribal communities and citizens.

The Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum is part of the Nevada Indian Commission, a Nevada state agency. Long a dream of alumni and tribal leaders – the museum opened on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Located at 1 Jacobsen Way, in Carson City, Nev., the Cultural Center & Museum occupies what was once the school’s administrative building. With vital backing from Nevada Governors Brian Sandoval and Steve Sisolak, and $4.5 million in funding from the Nevada Legislature, the Cultural Center & Museum provides a place for healing for thousands of American Indians affected by federal boarding schools such as Stewart.