Hear tribal storytelling, eat frybread and get COVID boosted at the 47th annual Denver Powwow this weekend

Come for the culture and get a vaccine shot.
3 min. read
Dino Holyeagle dances in his army fatigues during the grand entry kicking off the Denver March Powwow at the Denver Coliseum. March 18, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Frybread, dance competitions, tribal storytelling and more await folks this weekend at the 47th annual Denver March Powwow. The event at the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt St., starts Friday at 10 a.m. and ends Sunday.

The Powwow will also host a vaccine clinic, offering initial shots and boosters, as part of the "We Can Do This" COVID-19 public education campaign, in partnership with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

According to the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, the clinic will be outside the venue all three days and will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Folks can register in advance here, but appointments aren't required. Bring your vaccination card, if you have it, and know that, if you're requesting a specific brand, there's no guarantee you'll get that one.

Robin Cothley, with Denver Indian Health and Family Services, prepares a Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during the talking circle at Governor's Park. June 10, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

May Malik, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Education (Acting) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said hosting the clinic at the Powwow is a way to reach a community disproportionately affected by COVID, "due to significant underlying disparities in health, social and economic factors, and challenges in accessing quality health care."

Malik added, "At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the Navajo Nation and other tribes in the Southwest reported among the highest rates of infection in the entire United States. Now, the campaign is proud to simultaneously honor the cultural heritage of the native community while also educating attendees about the importance of receiving the updated COVID vaccines, as a way to protect yourself, your family and your community from exposure to COVID."

The current seven-day rate of positive tests, or positivity rate, is sitting at about 10.9% according to DDPHE.

DDPHE's data dashboard, last updated Feb. 13, shows that about 66.2% of people identifying as American Indian/Non-Hispanic have had at least one COVID vaccine shot. About 11.7% have received the Omicron booster.

Loren Wilson sits in the waiting room at the Denver Indian Health and Family Services clinic in Sun Valley, breathing from an oxygen tank that he's been using to recover from COVID-19. Nov. 24, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

DDPHE said vaccine rates are "slowly increasing" and cases in the city are at a "steady low...consistently classified in the low transmission category according to CDC over the last few weeks."

The health agency added that its vaccine team has been focused on assisting those in shelters, particularly those experiencing homelessness and migrants. In the future, DDPHE said they'll begin booster outreach efforts towards communities with low rates. That outreach looks like more clinics and more education.

"Vaccination continues to be a high priority for DDPHE, especially in under-resourced populations," a DDPHE spokesperson said in an email. "We continue to host vaccination clinics around the city in conjunction with the Public Health Institute at Denver Health as well as through the DDPHE COVID-19 endemic team."

Information on other clinics can be found here.

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