To outsiders, a contemporary pow wow looks simply like a foot-stomping good time filled with singing, dancing and colorful costumes.

But for Native Americans, the pow wow is a time to honor their heritage and renew traditions, according to the Arizona State University Pow Wow Committee.

While the event commands a certain amount of decorum and respect (this is not the place to par-tay), that doesn’t mean folks of all backgrounds aren’t welcome to watch the 25th annual ASU Spring Competition Pow Wow. The long-standing event draws highly regarded American Indian dancers from far-away places like Saskatchewan, Minnesota and Nebraska, as well as right here in Arizona.

In the arena, dancers of all ages perform in 23 categories, where they’re judged on their regalia as well as their abilities. An announcer explains each contest and ceremony, helping spectators understand what’s taking place and when it’s OK to whip out a camera.

There are also indigenous arts and crafts booths and piping hot fry bread so good it’ll make you want to slap your grandma for never making you anything so delicious.

A full schedule of dances, including a Tiny Tots Pow Wow for the littlest dancers, is available online, and you can get $1 off admission by donating a non-perishable food or hygiene item; the donations will go to Packages From Home, a group that supports deployed military personnel overseas.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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