BISMARCK-United Tribes Technical College will celebrate its 49th annual UTTC International Powwow this week in a newly renovated arena.

Festivities begin 10 a.m. Friday, with a dance performance by Jackie Bird for fourth-graders from across the region, and continue through the weekend.

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UTTC President Russ McDonald said additions to the arena include a new roof for shaded seating and new lighting for evening performances. The college also expanded the number and space for food vendors.

"I encourage Bismarck people to come out and participate," McDonald said.

At 1 p.m. Friday, powwow participants will re-dedicate the arena to former college president Dave Gipp and all veterans, renaming the space Lone Star Veterans Arena.

The cost to attend is $15 for one day or $20 for the weekend with kids younger than age 6 and seniors older than 64 admitted free.

Ahead of the powwow, tribal leaders are gathering in Bismarck to discuss topics ranging from education to economics. The pre-conference started Tuesday, with the main conference continuing through Thursday.

McDonald highlighted keynote speaker Anita Fineday of the Casey Family Programs and White Earth Tribal Nation. Fineday is managing director of the Indian Child Welfare Program and is speaking on native child protection, McDonald said. A panel will discuss how the Spirit Lake Tribe has taken over governance of its child protection services program from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Wayne Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member and executive director of the Native Governance Center, will speak Thursday on tribal governance. North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum will speak to youth attending the Youth Summit at noon.

McDonald said presenters at the summit are those "on the frontlines out there doing the work" and are able to speak on how they're bettering their communities. Attendees can then take these lessons back to their tribes.

"We're in the business of educating, so it's appropriate for us to be putting on a conference such as this," McDonald said.

About 500 people are expected to attend the summit, bringing $300,000 of visitor spending to the community, according to Sheri Grossman, executive officer of the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Powwow leaders estimate attendance of the weekend event as reaching 10,000, a $1.3 million economic boon to the community, Grossman said.

Other events for the week include UTTC LEGENDS Softball Tournament at Clem Kelly Softball Complex, UTTC High School Basketball Tournament at the college's James Henry Gymnasium, UTTC Open Golf Tournament at Apple Creek Country Club and the UTTC Powwow Run at the college.

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