Gathering of Nations returns in-person for the first time in 2 years

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In just a little more than a week, Albuquerque will once again play host to one of the largest annual gatherings of Native Americans in the United States.

It’s been two years since an in-person Gathering Of Nations was held. Organizers are expecting a strong return of the culture and the tradition put on display every year.

“It’s been a two year journey because the day we got shut down we were already looking forward to the day we come back,” said Derek Mathews, founder of Gathering of Nations.

Thanks to the pandemic, the Gathering Of Nations was a virtual even only in 2020 and 2021. But this year – everyone will get to experience a full return of a live, in-person event.

You can expect dances, music – both traditional and modern – and the return of the horse parade at Expo New Mexico.

“It’s important to bring that part of the culture back. The horses are important to so many traditions, so many tribes, so many nations, so here once we go on the fairgrounds, we’ve got unlimited space,” said Mathews.

A new "Miss Indian World" – the first since 2019 – will also be crowned.

“We’re trying to put all back together. It’s like the vase was knocked off the table, but it didn’t break, it shattered into crumbs, so we’re trying to pick those pieces back up and build that vase again,” Mathew said.

Organizers are expecting a good turnout.

“Our hotels are selling out which is always a good sign,” said Mathews.

As far as COVID is concerned, organizers say they’re following CDC guidelines to help keep people safe. Vaccines and masks won’t be required, but are recommended.

“Masks are just a good idea. You show up with a cold or a flu or whatever, you don’t want to be sharing that. You don’t even want to share bad breath,” Mathews said.

The Gathering Of Nations kicks off Thursday, April 28 and will run through to Saturday, April 30.

Tickets are now on sale online.