Calgary Stampede Powwow held in Saddledome for first time

A pilot project moved the adults' competition, held each year at Elbow River Camp, to the Saddledome to accommodate bigger crowds.

Co-ordinator hopes pilot project expands in future years

Calgary Stampede Powwow takes place in Saddledome for 1st time

7 months ago
Duration 1:10
More than 500 dancers from across North America are taking part in the Calgary Stampede's biggest competitive powwow in its history. While not new to the Stampede, it’s taking place inside the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time, instead of at the Elbow River Camp.

The Calgary Stampede Powwow is getting a bigger stage this year — inside the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The three-day event, which includes competitive dancing, drumming, singing and other Indigenous performances, isn't new to Stampede. It's usually held each year at the Elbow River Camp.

This year, a pilot project moved the adults' competition to the 'Dome to accommodate bigger crowds who want to experience the Indigenous culture as performers compete for $175,000 in prize money.

Representing Treaty 7 territory in this venue is a big deal, said Cheryl Crowchief, the Stampede's powwow co-ordinator.

"I'm totally, totally happy, thrilled, ecstatic. I can't even describe to you the feeling that I have knowing that I'm a part of this," she said.

Competitors dance in the Calgary Stampede Powwow at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday. (Oseremen Irete/CBC)

It's been a couple years since Ralph Large, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation north of Edmonton, has danced at the Stampede. He has competed in Indian horse relay racing in the interim, but this year he's taking part in the powwow and is a big fan of the new atmosphere.

"It's awesome that they had something like this finally," said Large. 

Some of the dancers and singers have travelled from across Canada and the United States to make it to the Stampede. Amos Yazzie III, a fancy dancer from Navajo Nation in Arizona, was invited by powwow organizers.

The powwow, which includes competitive dancing, drumming and singing, takes place over three days. (Oseremen Irete/CBC)

"It's like a big deal here in Calgary, and it's looking like a really good deal starting out," he said.

He added that, with a world-class venue and world-class performers, he hopes it continues.

"It's kind of best of the best. It's going to be a good one," said Yazzie.

"Knowing how many people are going to be here and see us perform, dance, sing — and it's just exciting."

Crowchief hopes the powwow will be held in the Saddledome again and get bigger in years to come, with kids under 18 taking part. For now, youth have their own event at the Elbow River Camp on Kids' Day.

The powwow runs July 12-14 and is free with admission to the Stampede.


Sarah Moore

Online journalist/associate producer

Sarah Moore joined CBC Calgary as an online journalist in 2021. If you have a tip or story idea, send her an email at

With files from Nassima Way of Radio-Canada and Jo Horwood of CBC