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The final official day of the conference and I am back to volunteering even more than for what I had signed up.  During a break from running forms to sessions and other small tasks, I went shopping for jewelry at the stands.IMG_0582

I had almost forgotten that my new apartment has the perfect ledge for a pot and that I had decided to look for one at conference.  Last year, I bought a painting from an old Alaskan artist.  This year, when I saw pottery on sale, I suddenly remembered what I had wanted to buy and knew I needed to get one.  It was over $200, but I chose this little pot by Cynthia Yazzie.  For a little extra money, she had it shipped back home for me.  Cynthia grew up on a reservation and was dirt poor her whole life.  Her pottery has so much symbolism, I didn’t regret buying it for a second.


Later I attended some sessions regarding the conditions of the reservations and engineering data collection – all things pertinent to my field of interest.  I’m currently working with some professors and global leaders on a model for creating self-sustainable reservations, so I took this time to network with some people.  I made some new connections besides the speakers, such as my new friends Thomas of New York and Rae of Oregon who have similar passions.


I spent quite a bit of time helping the others set up for the Traditional Banquet.  The conference didn’t seem nearly so long this year.  I had so much fun last time and, thinking of how time flies, this surprised me.  Maybe I was just so busy bouncing between events; last year I was so focused on my research and not having many people I knew kept me searching.


The centerpieces were maize kernels with fake candles.  We couldn’t have real flames, so we had batter candles that were still made of wax.  They were French Vanilla too, which is apparently cheaper than non-scented.  I joked that the candles might make popcorn.


Me with a bunch of the volunteers.


The big blue bear outside of the convention center.


I later decided to walk around to kill off an hour or so before the banquet.  I got to see more of downtown Denver, smell pot on the streets, and try a new brewery.IMG_0607

Then it was time to arrive at the banquet.  I actually had several invitations to sit with people – the perks of being alone – but I could only accept one.  I took my first offer, with Frazer and his Alaskan friends.

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Me and Frazer at the banquet.


The meals are always traditional.  It was National Bison Day and they were serving bison.  I had the vegetarian version.


I had to run back and grab Claire because she attended the Powwow after dinner, so she sat to see the end of Closing Ceremony, meet friends, and snack on leftovers.  After, we went upstairs for the powwow.


I was supposed to volunteer – my only signed-up-for event of they day – but no one was needed.  Instead, I got to enjoy my time and introduce friends from different circles – one of my favorite things ever!


Claire, me, and our friend Joe from Cleveland.


Traditional Regalia from the Men’s Traditional Dance.


A family reunion!  Tylynn (Hawai’ian), a new friend Lorraine (Hawai’ian), Isaiah (Hawai’ian), me (Potawatomi/Shawnee), Frazer (Alaskan), and Carlos (Mexican).  Natives unite!


The men’s trad dance is my fave.


Me in the hall where the powwow was held.

After the powwow, I joined Claire, Frazer, Joe, my friend Jacob, and a new face from Washington up on the top floor of the Hyatt for some drinks.  The police were yet again swarming our space and I began on edge.  (Why everywhere the AISES kids go?)  Thomas was also in the lounge.  It was too dark to see Denver clearly under the bright lights of the buildings.


Neat artwork in the hotel lobby.

It was a good night but I was sad to leave my friends.  Yet another good year, although nothing can top Alaska.  AISES is always a source of inspiration and happiness.

Jacob took my number and says he can go hiking with me and Claire tomorrow.  We’ll see if he keeps his promise!