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Old 04-27-2009, 05:25 PM   #1
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GON another perspective

I just got this in and was instructed to pass it on. (Disclaimer: These are not my words. I am just the messenger)
____



Greetings to all my Native brothers and sisters:

Tansi. My name is Darwin Whitstone and I’m from the Cree Tribe. I am not affiliated with any organizations, groups, or societies, but I do wonder what happened to our advocates on Native issues.

As you all know, Pow Wow season is here again, and I wish all of you, my relations, all Tribal Nations on Turtle Island, safe travel to and from the various Pow Wows you will visit this season.

As Native People, we have endured various assaults on our culture and traditions. We have been through the fires of atrocity and have made it through, but not unscathed. The massacres, long walks, genocide, and forced assimilation through the boarding school system have wreaked havoc on American Indian Tribes in the United States and Canada. Today, we still see and feel the effects of the efforts of those bent on destroying our culture and way of life. As Native People we still experience racism and exploitation of Native Culture, i.e. Native mascots for sports’ teams, traders/merchants buying authentic crafts from Native artists at a fraction of the cost only to resale to the public at a thousand percent markup. Another major concern I would like to address is the recent attack on our Pow Wow culture – The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

As you are all aware, The Gathering of Nations is supported by various Tribes from the United States and Canada. My intentions are not to offend or demean anyone associated with this Pow Wow, but there are some concerns that need to be addressed.
1) Traders are housed in the main arena while the majority of Native vendors are located in a tent away from the Pow Wow.
2) Natives traveling from distant locations to participate in and hold on to their Native culture must pay ridiculous doorway fees as well as parking fees.
3) Any Brothers wanting to record must register their recorders and pay a fee to record.
4) Outdoor drinks and meals are not allowed – forcing participants and spectators to purchase expensive food and drinks indoors.
5) This one Powwow generates enough money to hold ten more powwows of that magnitude, and yet, Mr. Powwow Coordinator in an interview with the Navajo Times, states, “The remainder of the money is used to fund next year’s powwow.”
6) The Pow Wow coordinator (NON-INDIAN) demonstrates ignorance and/or blatant disrespect for Native culture – (i.e. I have seen the coordinator rush through a crowd of dancers with no worry or concern for the Eagle feather used in their regalia; I have seen him roughly grab a fancy dancer on the arm, swinging him around and cussed him out for blowing a whistle; I have seen him stop a drum group in the middle of their drumming when a whistle was blown.)
How can you explain for a Non-Native have the power to stop a whistle at a Powwow and then proceed to stop the drum that responded to that whistle!? And yet we continue to support this individual every year, considering the taboos he violated. This individual was asked to MC a powwow in a New Mexico community a couple years ago. The powwow committee asked him for a donation, which he gladly donated $600 but asked for $800 at the end for MCing the powwow.

Pow Wows are an important part of our culture that gives us strength, rejuvenates the heart, and heals us. Although money is needed to fund pow wows, they should not be exploited for the benefit of one person. Each year, The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow raises hundreds of thousands of dollars of INDIAN MONEY in entrance fees, parking fees, vendor fees, recording fees, and countless other fees. Where does this money go???

There are many Tribal Nations across the U.S. and Canada who do not have enough resources to fund scholarships for their Tribal members to further their education and improve their communities. This Pow Wow has found a way to exploit our cultural traditions to make money….money that should be distributed back to less fortunate Tribal Nations to assist their children with scholarships.

Please do not take this as some sort of jealous attack, it is merely concern for maintaining our traditions and knowing that the day when NON-INDIANS dictate the terms of our culture and exploit us for their financial benefit WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. If you are planning or already have planned a trip this year, please consider the larger issue at stake – our CULTURE, our FUTURE.

I THANK YOU - MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ON TURTLE ISLAND FOR THIS TIME.
MAY THE CREATOR TAKE CARE OF YOUR HOME FIRES AND GUIDE YOU ON YOUR JOURNEYS.

PLEASE FORWARD TO OTHER BROTHERS & SISTERS IF YOU FEEL OUR CULTURE AND VALUES ARE AT STAKE…

Hiy-hiy! (thank you!)

____



Whatcha' think?
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:43 PM   #2
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:50 PM   #3
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I'll respond to #3. Lots of places restrict that! I've had to smuggle food in several times at Red Earth.

From what I understand that is a restriction placed on Pow Wows by the venues. The venues open their own concession stands during these events and want to ensure they have a monopoly. At one the food vendors told me they were not allowed to sell items that the venue concession stands sold -- fries, hot dogs, etc. They were only allowed to sell other items.

So keep in mind that some of these things that frustrate us as powwow'ers aren't necessarily controlled by the pow wow committees.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:00 PM   #4
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Another example is the one at the University of Phoenix Stadium this weekend (May 1-3). The schedule says "7:00pm (sharp)" for Grand Entry on the first day, but there is free entry on Friday night only. Otherwise you shell out $12.00 each for Saturday and Sunday.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:21 PM   #5
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TT - thats probably to pay for the stadium usage bro.......for that I don't mind paying........I mean it is a first time all you dancers and signers will get to powwow on an official NFL field...not that you would or do care...but ti is something cool....

For the reasons listed in the letter drom Darwin, I wholly agreee, the GON has become too commercialized, for which is why I quit going....not worth it.........anyway..........congrats to the winners..........
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:29 PM   #6
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That's why I'm glad Paul G was able to do the webcast. No, it's not the same as being there, but when you have a relatively large family actually making the trip to GON would be pretty costly - one reason we haven't been there yet.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:54 PM   #7
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Gathering and RedEarth both charge and arm and a leg along with the concessions
Its sad and yet We natives continue to go to them and dance at them
None of this will change until enough stop going to these Gatherings...

There are tons of other Dances that dont charge and allow outside food and drink whatever you want so that is not the problem I think its the money and the prestige more than anything
For us spectators we have the Webcast and anything we want to drink at HOME...
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Old 04-27-2009, 07:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul G View Post
I'll respond to #3. Lots of places restrict that! I've had to smuggle food in several times at Red Earth.

From what I understand that is a restriction placed on Pow Wows by the venues. The venues open their own concession stands during these events and want to ensure they have a monopoly. At one the food vendors told me they were not allowed to sell items that the venue concession stands sold -- fries, hot dogs, etc. They were only allowed to sell other items.

So keep in mind that some of these things that frustrate us as powwow'ers aren't necessarily controlled by the pow wow committees.

Quite true. Most commercial venues (Fairgrounds, arenas, etc.) have contracts with concessionaires. It's not just powwows. It's also not a "monopoly," it's an exclusive contract the venue has with the food service company. Any other similar event held in the same place, would also have a "no outside food" clause. I've been to many, many a horse show, etc. where we were told "no outside food." Doesn't mean we didn't, but one has to be very clever on how to bring it in.

That being said, the committee should NEGOTIATE this -- the more people keep going to (and eating and drinking at) GON and building up revenues for the site, the more bargaining power the committee will have.
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Old 04-27-2009, 07:44 PM   #9
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You also don't want everyone bringing their own food so you don't hurt the revenue of your native food vendors. I know when I was on a committee we tried hard to make sure we got the right balance of food vendors so they all made $.
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Old 04-27-2009, 11:52 PM   #10
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Petition

The statement beginning this thread can be found by typing Gathering of Nations 2010 in the search bar of the browser and pulling up the petition. I signed this petition today and sent it to members of my family. I support the statements made in the petition.
I have been traveling our country for many years and one thing is true. It is and has been a new world for powwowing for a few years. Gone are the days when prize money was not the definitive factor in the success of a powwow. I live in Albuquerque and regret missing the days of the very popular Albuquerque Powwow held at the old Indian School grounds. The story that I was told regarding the demise of that event was the Pueblo owners of the property didn't like the powwow being held on their grass. The powwow died and so did the grass. The trend has changed to prizes and in order to continue offer these high monetary offerings a high degree of comercialism had to occur. I thank the Maker for continuing the tradition of an Indian Country event like Crow Fair. Not quite balance but a very different perspective.
As for the GON, I have always been very disillusioned by the status and hoopla surrounding the non-Native celebrities and musicians and the preference given to them at this event. I mean...what did Malcolm Jamal Warner showing up as an honored guest and one of the Marleys performing on a Friday night have to do with a Gathering for Native people? Why not a Native celebrity like Graham Greene or musicians like Litefoot or Indigenous. Oh yeah, they were or would have been relegated to the back stage at the event. How could I forget?
Things need to change to get better.
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Old 04-28-2009, 01:32 AM   #11
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why do people like going to this powwow? they hire head staff to run there powwow but they give them a list of rules and what kind of judges to pick. the head staff are just puppets here. they had a old style woman's fancy here but they really didn't pick old style dancers. there judges were mostly young so they didn't know what to look for.. the powwow never has a tie even with all the groups that they have. makes me wonder what they do back there? maybe flip a coin?? with all of that money that they make they never advertise the dance and drum money. when they ask the head staff they don't tell them how much money that they are going to pay them. each head staff get pays different and it changes ever year. the security people are rude and no respect. there was one security was rushing and grab a dancer and move him out of his way and the dancer was dancing in the arena.. why do people make a big deal about this powwow? no interibal they charge you for everything and i'm not surprise if they will start to charge you to go to the bathroom. i wont be going back to this powwow. the powwow don't have any spirit even with all the good drums there.. well how can you have any spirit if you try to make a powwow into a show?
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billthepill469 View Post
The statement beginning this thread can be found by typing Gathering of Nations 2010 in the search bar of the browser and pulling up the petition. I signed this petition today and sent it to members of my family. I support the statements made in the petition.
I have been traveling our country for many years and one thing is true. It is and has been a new world for powwowing for a few years. Gone are the days when prize money was not the definitive factor in the success of a powwow. I live in Albuquerque and regret missing the days of the very popular Albuquerque Powwow held at the old Indian School grounds. The story that I was told regarding the demise of that event was the Pueblo owners of the property didn't like the powwow being held on their grass. The powwow died and so did the grass. The trend has changed to prizes and in order to continue offer these high monetary offerings a high degree of comercialism had to occur. I thank the Maker for continuing the tradition of an Indian Country event like Crow Fair. Not quite balance but a very different perspective.
As for the GON, I have always been very disillusioned by the status and hoopla surrounding the non-Native celebrities and musicians and the preference given to them at this event. I mean...what did Malcolm Jamal Warner showing up as an honored guest and one of the Marleys performing on a Friday night have to do with a Gathering for Native people? Why not a Native celebrity like Graham Greene or musicians like Litefoot or Indigenous. Oh yeah, they were or would have been relegated to the back stage at the event. How could I forget?
Things need to change to get better.

I like this. It'll be interesting to see how it unfolds in the next year. It's an old issue that has been going on for years now. I have friends who have family who have been on the head staff and were directly involved in many aspects of this event in the late 80's and early 90's, and I have heard their accounts of why they fell out with this event. Their reasons revolved mainly around the undisclosure of bottom-line finances later in the year once the pow wow was over and done, despite it being a "non-profit organization."

One far-fetched solution would be to get people with "name" or status in the pow wow community (i.e. dancers/singers who are popular on the circuit, etc., or even popular/successful web communities such as this one) to openly and wholeheartedly endorse such a boycott, to turn down offers to participate in the event with a thorough explanation of the decision to do so (e.g. a published, open letter of declination of their participation in the event), etc. As long as Derek Matthews has such people of status in his pocket, he will continue to get away with his event under the guise of these people. He alone can't pull off this event without all the help he gets from said people in the pow wow community. And, in my humble opinion, therein lies one of the fundamental problems contributing to the success of this event.

Last edited by SV_SB; 04-28-2009 at 04:07 AM..
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:41 AM   #13
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I also received this email last week and wholeheartedly agree. I've been saying it for about 4 years now, Gathering and the people who run it will not change-the only way a change to this event will happen is if the person in charge DOES NOT MAKE ANY MONEY from it. As long as people go and pay the fees and dancers show up and pay the registration fee and participate and singers sing, money is coming into someone's pocket.

There are so many issues with gathering, I can't even call it a powwow, because it's really just a large show. I'm happy to see that more and more pow wow people are realizing this and staying away from the event, but it will take a HUGE widespread campaign to get the event to stop or even to change it enough to make it recognizable as a powwow.

I truly feel that if Mr. Mathews had the Native population of singers and dancers interests at heart, why oh why wouldn't he look for a better venue for the event? I used to live in ABQ, I know there are other places to assemble that many people and still have enough room to dance and sing. If the committee solicits donations from so many other tribes why not MOVE the event every year and have it in a different region of the country, truly making it an accessible gathering of ALL nations?

As for the judging of the contests-I honestly don't know how a drum contest can be judged fairly if all the drums aren't judged against each other. It's a sham-and a shame that all the drums can't be set up at the same time, in order to be fair, they should limit the number of drums competing to just what can fit into the arena-although I don't see why that matters anyway, particularly when we consider that 6 of the 10 drums who placed in the contest were in fact ALL THE INVITED drums!!! HMMM? How does that happen? Doesn't invited in fact mean, compensated in some manner to be there? They shouldn't be allowed to compete in the drum contest, unless OH say, the committee planned to compensate them by letting them ALL PLACE IN THE CONTEST?

If i were a singer with any drum group but the 10 that placed, I think i'd be pretty upset. And Yes, i can hear the argument now-but the invited drums are Top drum groups, yes, i understand that, however once the committee has deemed you and ADVERTISED with your name as an INVITED member of their head staff, that group is under the direction and influence of that committee. To accept hotel rooms, free admission to the event, any type of compensation, puts that group in the pocket of the committee. The only way it could be totally fair is if the drum group completely and totally foots their own bill, pays to register their singers, pays for their own travel and rooms and does not accept ANY KIND of billing in the advertisement. I'm thinking of the smaller lesser known drums that sound just as good and may have traveled a very long way, paying their own expenses to be at this event and end up competing against 4 or 5 northern drums who's names are used on all the materials, in all the introductions, etc. Why have drum contest at all? Why not have just the invited drums since they all got paid anyway. Although when one stops and thinks of the cost to register a drum group times the number of drums, that's a tidy sum of money in itself.

For what its worth, that's only a small portion of the issues with the event. Considering the money making venture that its become, i'm somewhat curious what the arrangement was for powwows.com to webcast it? The GON is usually so tight with recording of their event, so they have exclusive rights to any recordings that are sold-therefore any money that is gained-so i'm still somewhat surprised that they allowed it to be webcast for free.
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:46 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by dad View Post
why do people like going to this powwow? they hire head staff to run there powwow but they give them a list of rules and what kind of judges to pick. the head staff are just puppets here. they had a old style woman's fancy here but they really didn't pick old style dancers. there judges were mostly young so they didn't know what to look for.. the powwow never has a tie even with all the groups that they have. makes me wonder what they do back there? maybe flip a coin?? with all of that money that they make they never advertise the dance and drum money. when they ask the head staff they don't tell them how much money that they are going to pay them. each head staff get pays different and it changes ever year. the security people are rude and no respect. there was one security was rushing and grab a dancer and move him out of his way and the dancer was dancing in the arena.. why do people make a big deal about this powwow? no interibal they charge you for everything and i'm not surprise if they will start to charge you to go to the bathroom. i wont be going back to this powwow. the powwow don't have any spirit even with all the good drums there.. well how can you have any spirit if you try to make a powwow into a show?
They did post this info about the contest:
Native American Powwow - Gathering of Nations 2009 - Dance & Drum Competition and Special Contests
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:48 AM   #15
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i'm somewhat curious what the arrangement was for powwows.com to webcast it? The GON is usually so tight with recording of their event, so they have exclusive rights to any recordings that are sold-therefore any money that is gained-so i'm still somewhat surprised that they allowed it to be webcast for free.
PowWows.com worked in partnership with Gathering to provide the webcast. They have done their own webcast in the past. We stepped into provide assistance and to add more features to their webcast. For full disclosure, PowWows.com received 1 hotel room and 2 passes to the event. We were not compensated monetarily for this webcast.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:07 AM   #16
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Webcast

I tried watching the webcast to see what was actually happening over there. My brother and his drum had traveled in from Kansas. I got a lotta black screen, a buncha Derek Matthews jabbering on and on, some Oklahoma Straight Dancers but not much else. My feed seemed to hose out on me. But I tried.
We went over there late on Saturday night to hear the drum contest. Had to deal with rude non-Native event staff who were insisting that the box office had closed and no one was getting in, until we met a Native security person who said, "sure, you can go in and check it out."
I got a question. If the non-Natives who stand at the doors, smirk and treat our people so rudely hate being around us, why don't they ask for another assignment? Answer. Power. These small people enjoy BIA (Bossin' Indians Around). Makes 'em feel good. Surely a powwow that size can afford a security unit we can feel comfortable around. And yes I understand contracts that the venue has with these outfits are in place and all that but...jeez. When does it end?
The GON has gotten to be the 700 lb gorilla, we need a new powwow in Albuquerque, late Spring or early Fall to be the better alternative. We had one at Tingley but our short-sighted Mayor and the Fairground people let it get away and then cried because of the economic loss. Time for a new event in Albuquerque.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:17 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by billthepill469 View Post
I tried watching the webcast to see what was actually happening over there. My brother and his drum had traveled in from Kansas. I got a lotta black screen, a buncha Derek Matthews jabbering on and on, some Oklahoma Straight Dancers but not much else. My feed seemed to hose out on me. But I tried.
We went over there late on Saturday night to hear the drum contest. Had to deal with rude non-Native event staff who were insisting that the box office had closed and no one was getting in, until we met a Native security person who said, "sure, you can go in and check it out."
I got a question. If the non-Natives who stand at the doors, smirk and treat our people so rudely hate being around us, why don't they ask for another assignment? Answer. Power. These small people enjoy BIA (Bossin' Indians Around). Makes 'em feel good. Surely a powwow that size can afford a security unit we can feel comfortable around. And yes I understand contracts that the venue has with these outfits are in place and all that but...jeez. When does it end?
The GON has gotten to be the 700 lb gorilla, we need a new powwow in Albuquerque, late Spring or early Fall to be the better alternative. We had one at Tingley but our short-sighted Mayor and the Fairground people let it get away and then cried because of the economic loss. Time for a new event in Albuquerque.
Sorry you had issues with the webcast.

You can watch the rebroadcast on the Archives:
Pow Wow TV - Native American Pow Wow Videos
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:10 PM   #18
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Lightbulb Devil's Advocate.....

For the sheer sake of arguement.....Why Not? If folks don't agree or want to support GON......Don't go....Thats real simple.....There sure are alot of Skins who do go and will continue going....Thats just how it is....I'll tell you first hand its tough to put on a powwow of that size and a whole lot of work goes into it.....People who powwow know what to expect....If not well do your homework.....Generally any arena you powwow in is going to monopolize the food and beverage sales.....That's common sense.....What should raise an eyebrow is the amount of people in the building....The Fire Marshall was turning folks away one year.....I know for a fact its tough for elders to make their way down the steps, but they do it....I've witnessed it for 7 years.....They don't really complain they just deal with it, or as I initially said they don't go.....So you do have a choice.....It would be nice to see them move it to a larger location. Possibly make it a 3 day Powwow and increase the catergories? Its certainly possible, although until i'm right in the mix......How do I have one iota of a clue what it takes to make that powwow a reality? I'll tell you what.....Loads of people enjoy it and some obviously don't.....You'll never please everyone regardless.....
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:15 PM   #19
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For the sheer sake of arguement.....Why Not? If folks don't agree or want to support GON......Don't go....Thats real simple.....There sure are alot of Skins who do go and will continue going....Thats just how it is....I'll tell you first hand its tough to put on a powwow of that size and a whole lot of work goes into it.....People who powwow know what to expect....If not well do your homework.....Generally any arena you powwow in is going to monopolize the food and beverage sales.....That's common sense.....What should raise an eyebrow is the amount of people in the building....The Fire Marshall was turning folks away one year.....I know for a fact its tough for elders to make their way down the steps, but they do it....I've witnessed it for 7 years.....They don't really complain they just deal with it, or as I initially said they don't go.....So you do have a choice.....It would be nice to see them move it to a larger location. Possibly make it a 3 day Powwow and increase the catergories? Its certainly possible, although until i'm right in the mix......How do I have one iota of a clue what it takes to make that powwow a reality? I'll tell you what.....Loads of people enjoy it and some obviously don't.....You'll never please everyone regardless.....
Well said!

Every event has room for improvements. And there are some things Gathering should consider such as adding a few more categories.

But putting on an event of this size takes a huge amount of dedication and time--not to mention $. The fact that the Matthews family has dedicated themselves to Gathering, to me, is very admirable. Agree or disagree with how they run things, the fact is they are very committed to Gathering!
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:19 PM   #20
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i say... If you dont like the powwow.. then just don't go!!
plain and simple!! i'm not a supporter.. i just hate when people
complain about something..
when no one is forcing you to go.
Am i right or am i right?? everyone complains.. but still go! Hahaha!
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