Outgoing chairman sees big future for powwow

Bill Kight visits with Sandy Shimko of White River Museum during a showing of the documentary film “We Shall Remain — the Ute.”

Bill Kight visits with Sandy Shimko of White River Museum during a showing of the documentary film “We Shall Remain — the Ute.”
Bill Kight visits with Sandy Shimko of White River Museum during a showing of the documentary film “We Shall Remain — the Ute.”
MEEKER I Even though he’s planning on stepping out of a leadership role, Bill Kight expects the Smoking River Pow Wow to only get bigger and better.
Kight, an archaeologist with the White River National Forest in Glenwood Springs, has worked closely with the Ute Tribe for many years and has been chairman of the powwow committee.
He has been instrumental in helping, along with others such as Lynn Lockwood and Liz Turner of Meeker, in organizing the first two powwows.
“In the sense of trying to transition to the community, basically, I can’t continue to lead it,” Kight said at the conclusion of this year’s event, Sept. 25-26. “We’re hoping the community will continue to match what the tribes have given, which is $10,000 (from the tribes) each of the first two years.”
Kight said the powwow committee would also seek additional funding regionally and from grants.
“The broader reach we have, the better off we’ll be to sustain the powwow,” he said. “We’d like to maintain the traditional giveaway spirit of the powwow (which is a free event to the public). That spirit is important for us to maintain.”
The U.S. Forest Service will continue to be involved to the extent of helping with projects such as developing camping trips to the Flat Tops Wilderness for Ute youth.
Indicative of the success of the powwow and the progress made in building relationships between the community of Meeker and the Utes, Kight said the descendants of Chief Colorow — who was involved in the events of 1879 between the Utes and the white soldiers — have expressed a desire to donate family artifacts to the White River Museum.
“That’s a really good thing,” Kight said. “There have been some really positive outcomes (from the powwow).”
Kight said organizers of the powwow have a desire for representatives of the Ute Tribe to become even more active in the planning of the event.
“We would like to involve the tribe more in the committee,” he said.
As far as the powwow itself, Kight said the future looks bright.
“I think it was even more successful (the second year),” he said. “We had a lot of good feedback, from both participants and people who came to watch. It’s something that should continue and will grow bigger every year.”