Annual Christmas Pow Wow Spreads Holiday Cheer

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Families traveled from near and far to celebrate Indigenous culture and Christmastime at the 5th annual Tulalip Tribes and Marysville School District (MSD) Indian Education Christmas Powwow. On the evening of December 15, the Francy J. Sheldon Gymnasium was at capacity and rocking as local Veterans kicked off the ceremony, leading the way during grand entry. 

Dancers draped in beautiful regalia, that showcased their beading and seaming talents, competed in a number of categories including fancy shawl, jingle and traditional dances. The crowd was highly interactive, cheering on their loved ones as they hit the floor to honor the traditions of their ancestors. Babies to elders engaged throughout the entire evening, dancing in circles around the gym to hypnotic drum beats provided by five drum circles.

“It started five years ago through the MSD and the Tulalip Tribes,” explained Deborah Parker, MSD Director of Equity, Diversity and Indigenous Education. “Our Native American liaisons wanted to provide a little holiday cheer because sometimes it can be a difficult time of year for some families. So we wanted to do a powwow, bring the drums out and let everybody have a good time to remind us that the holidays are about families coming together and about us loving and uplifting each other.”

Across campus, at Marysville Mountain View Arts and Technology High School, Santa Clause paid a visit to drop off gifts donated by Toys for Tots, as well as a handful of community members. While Ol’ Saint Nick stuck around for a bit to take photos with the families, the kids checked out all of the toys and got to pick one present each, choosing from a selection of stuffed animals, Hot Wheels and books. 

“Little kids look forward to this all year. They’re always asking, when’s the next Santa powwow,” said Deborah. “This year we served 1,100 plates of roast, mashed potatoes and corn. We had about forty plus dancers, five drums and we gave out close to 1,000 toys. The kids were super excited, even before we opened the doors, we had a huge lineup. Every kid gets a toy and they get to pick their own toy, so that’s special. We had Santa pictures and lots of vendors, it’s kind of a festival type atmosphere. Everybody’s laughing, hugging and sharing good words with each other and that’s the spirit of what we came to do.”  

Tulalip Coastal Jam honors Indigenous People

“To me, Indigenous means being proud of who you are and where you come from; remembering your ancestry and all that they’ve done to get us to where we are right now; and to educate our youth to be strong as Native People and to love themselves so our culture and traditions stay alive.” 

– Denise Hatch-Anderson, Tulalip tribal member

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

For the past four years, the greater Seattle area has been celebrating the beautiful culture of the people who lived off of this land since time immemorial. Every second Monday in Octber, communities throughout western Washington host a variety of events to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which officially replaced Columbus Day back in 2014. Indigenous Peoples’ Day aims to provide Washingtonians with accurate information about the series of events that occurred after Columbus reached our lands in 1492. Many communities nationwide have joined Seattle and now celebrate Indigenous culture every year. 

To start off the second week of Tulalip Unity Month, #KindnessWeek, Youth Services hosted a cultural gathering at the Greg Williams Court on the evening of Indigenous Peoples Day. The gym was packed and the bleachers were filled as people waited in anticipation for the festivities to begin. The youth proudly led Tulalip to the floor with loud drumbeats and booming chants in a song paying respect to the four directions. It didn’t take long for the spectators to become participants as the bleachers emptied and people joined Tulalip on the floor for a large coastal jam. 

“Today I’m happy to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. That whole Christopher Columbus Day, we don’t recognize that,” says Tulalip tribal member and Tulalip Youth Services Activities Coordinator, Josh Fryberg. “The main thing is we want to honor our ancestors and make them proud and continue to set a cultural path, continue on with our treaty rights for the future generations to come. And we want to encourage the youth to continue to learn your culture each and every day and continue to fight for it so that it’s here for the future generations. Tonight, I believe we have Puyallup, Lummi, Swinomish and some from Canada, just a good mix of many tribes. We’re blessed, it shows the unity within all of our tribes and all of our bands.”

Native families created a circle around the gym and took turns performing their traditional songs and dances. A few songs were known to all of the coastal families in which more dancers hit the floor and the words were sung at a much louder volume by the entire crowd, causing that goosebump sensation during a beautiful moment for the culture. The youth ruled the night. Kids of all ages, infants to teens, sang their hearts out and danced all evening. After performing a song, the Tulalip youth put down their drums and rattles and joined the dancers on the floor until it was their turn to sing again, repeating this cycle for over two hours.

“It makes me feel good, it makes my heart warm because this is something that we needed,” says Tulalip tribal member and Marysville School District Native Liaison, Denise Hatch-Anderson. “October is always hard for our youth, not just because of the change in seasons but because of what happened four years ago. October has been a hard transition for our teens ever since. To see our teens here, knowing they’re going to get the healing they need from the songs tonight warms my heart and it’s going to uplift them as well as our tiny ones and our elders.”

Tulalip Youth Services will continue hosting a variety of activities throughout October for Unity Month including many fun autumn themed events that bring attention to issues such as bullying, domestic violence and substance abuse. For more information, please visit the Tulalip Youth Services Facebook page.

 

Celebrating Indigenous People

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the second Monday of October 2014, Seattle became the third place in the United States to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The process to end the celebration of a genocidal, slave trading, lost navigator was strenuous, but thanks to tireless work by activists like Matt Remle and many others, the proclamation was voted on by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray in 2013.

“People ask, ‘Why Indigenous Peoples Day and why not American Indian Day or Native American Day?’ It’s only appropriate that we honor the legacy of the work [that’s been done],” explains Remle. “It’s not only honoring legacy, but when we say ‘Indigenous peoples,’ it’s referring to more than just the tribes of colonized United States. We’re talking about all Indigenous peoples who’ve been impacted by settler colonialism around the world. We want to represent and acknowledge the Taíno, they’re the ones that first faced Columbus.”

Over the past four years, the Indigenous Peoples’ Day movement has spread to over 70 places in the United States, while locally becoming a day to celebrate global Indigenous cultures. On Monday, October 8, Indigenous people and allies from around the Pacific Northwest gathered at Westlake Park, on ancestral Duwamish land, for a march and rally to celebrate the 5th year Seattle has celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. More than 200 people marched in heavy rain from Westlake Park to Seattle City Hall, where a rally of celebratory song and dance was held. 

In the evening, the festivities continued at Daybreak Star Cultural Center with an honoring celebration for Native communities in the Puget Sound Region. Sponsored by Tulalip Tribes community impact funds, the Daybreak Star gathering included hundreds of urban Natives, dancers from a variety of tribal nations, and non-Natives who wanted to share in the memorable event.

“When we have an honoring gathering in our community, it is a way for us to show respect, to listen, and to acknowledge the incredible work our people do for one reason and one reason only – the love of Native people,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, emcee for the Daybreak Star celebration. 

The American Indian Movement (AIM) honor song kicked off the evening, followed by Taíno dancers, and then a riveting performance by Indigenous Sisters Resistance. After a short intermission, a truly captivating fire ritual was performed by the Traditional Aztec Fire Dancers. The overflowing crowd was treated to performances by Haida Heritage and a powwow squad as the evening’s finale. 

“It’s been a beautiful day to see so many Indigenous people come together and be filled with so much joy,” shared 19-year-old Ayanna Fuentes, a member of Indigenous Sisters Resistance. “Our younger generation is growing up not knowing what Columbus Day is, and that’s an amazing thing.”

“It’s also a celebration of the amazing resiliency of Indigenous peoples, period,” added educator and activist Matt Remle. “Despite the Euro colonizers greatest efforts at mass genocide, disposition, slavery, and assimilation, we as Native peoples are still here. Native communities continue to fight to protect the land, air, and waters. We continue to live traditional roles and responsibilities, which have been passed down from our origins as a peoples since the beginning of creation. We continue to sing our songs, relearn our languages and express ourselves through our dances and cultures.”

A variety of States, cities, towns, counties, community groups, schools, and other institutions observed Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 8th. They all did so with activities that raised awareness of the rich history, culture, and traditions of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. 

Annual Veteran’s Pow Wow

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The first weekend of June marked the 27th Annual Tulalip Veterans Powwow. The extremely popular event welcomed hundreds of traditional dancers and singers to the Greg Williams Court to honor our veterans and celebrate Indigenous culture. The event kicked-off on June 1 and ended on the evening of June 3, as Natives of all ages and from across the Nation journeyed to Tulalip to participate in the powwow. 

“I came from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and am Blackfeet and Colville,” said Dave Madera. “I came to dance and sing.  It’s really positive, it feels good to get out on the floor and dance it’s really a celebration of our lives and uplifting our people through song and dance.”

The powwow featured a number of grand entries throughout the weekend, but the most popular was perhaps on the evening of June 2, as the entire gym was rocking to the beats provided by the many drum groups and the jingle of traditional regalia. 

“It’s about visiting with your family and friends and at the same time you’re sharing the culture,” said Russell McCloud (Puyallup/Yakima) “Song and dance brings everyone together. For the powwow it’s that drum, the drum brings everybody here. When they’re drumming and singing, everybody’s on the same beat and that unites all of us together.”

Ruben Littlehead served as Master of Ceremonies during the powwow and Northern Cree provided loud, rhythmic drumbeats throughout the event as the host drum circle. This year featured a playground for the kids that overlooked Tulalip Bay as well as numerous vendors. 

The annual powwow continues to inspire a new generation of dancers as kids of all ages took to the floor to honor our vets and ancestors by showcasing their traditional dance skills. Adults and elders also joined in on the fun by dancing their hearts out and getting lost in the culture.

“I love everything about this powwow,” expressed young Tulalip tribal member, Jordan Power. “I come to dance for the people, share our culture and continue practicing our traditions.”

Thousands celebrate tradition and culture at UW powwow

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The steady, strong sound of rhythmic drumbeats rumbled through Hec Ed Pavilion as dancers, big and small, honored their unique tribal cultures during the 47th annual Spring Powwow held at the University of Washington. Hosted by the student-led organization, First Nations, the two-day powwow brought out an estimated eight to ten-thousand people over the weekend of April 7th. 

Blackstone Singers from Cree Territory was the host drum. Their powerful voices echoed through the arena, while dancers from all over Indian Country showcased their unique style of dance and corresponding regalia. During Grand Entry, the main stage was awash with color and movement, sparkling gold and polished silver, the earth tones of leather and feathers, and all manner of fluorescent fabrics. 

In the concession area outside the arena, aromas of fry bread and smoked salmon filled the air as vendors set up table after table of unique, hand-made goods. 

The Spring Powwow is a competitive powwow, meaning it includes dance contests according to age (junior, teen, adult, 50 and up) and style. The dancers specialized in a variety of styles: grass, cloth, jingle, fancy, and chicken. Monetary prizes are awarded to dancers in each category who score highest with the judges. As the weekend continued, each dance category got its turn: the energetic fancy dancers, the bobbing movements of the women’s buckskin dance, and the strutting chicken dance.

Representing hundreds of tribes, University of Washington’s annual powwow is one of the biggest powwow in the Pacific Northwest. Free to the public, it continues to provide a perfect opportunity for families and individuals from all walks of life to celebrate a culture that continues to thrive in tradition.

Christmas Powwow brings families together during the holidays

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Over eight hundred people gathered at the Francis J. Sheldon Gymnasium on the evening of Saturday December 16, for the fourth Annual Tulalip Tribes and Marysville School District Indian Education Christmas Powwow. Dressed in their fanciest regalia, dancers from as far as Canada hit the floor to celebrate the holiday season in traditional fashion. Drumbeats from several circles echoed throughout the gymnasium; the crowd favorite, however, was a drum circle comprised of young indigenous men who proudly sang throughout the evening.

Many multi-generational families were in attendance that took the opportunity to spend time with each other by dancing, singing and even posing for holiday family portraits with Santa Clause. Every child in attendance received a present of their choice donated by Toys for Tots.

“On behalf of the powwow committee, we would like to thank all of you for coming out,” stated Marysville School District Native Liaison, Matt Remle on the event’s Facebook page. “We’d like to thank all the cooks, volunteers, Toys for Tots, vendors, drummers, singers, dancers, families, elders, vets, water protectors and our Indian Ed and Tulalip Ed staffs. Enjoy the holidays and we will see you in the spring for our Hibulb powwow.”

Tulalip Hosts 8th Annual Stick Game Tournament

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Slahal is a well-known gambling game played amongst Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest coast. Known by a variety of names such as hand game, bone game and stick game, Slahal has been used since time immemorial by Native American ancestors to settle a multitude of disputes including the rights to hunting and fishing territories. In many Northwest Native American communities it is believed that Slahal was gifted from the animals as a means to prevent war and unite the Coast Salish tribes.

Each year, the Tulalip Tribes hosts a weekend-long stick-game tournament at the Tulalip Amphitheater, located north of the Tulalip Resort and Casino. Coast Salish families’ journey, some from as far British Columbia, to join in on the festivities and for the opportunity to win cash prizes.

Gameplay requires two opposing teams, consisting of three to five players, to face each other. Salhal game pieces include two pairs of bones, one pair decorated with beaded stripes, as well as a set of sticks, used to keep score. The bones are separated amongst the players and the opposing team has to correctly guess where the beaded bones are. Traditional songs are performed while the team discreetly shuffles the game pieces between players, as a means of distraction.

This year, the 8th Annual Tulalip Tribes Stick Game Tournament was held Friday June 2 through Sunday June 4 and featured a total weekend payout of $63,000. Over one hundred and seventeen teams competed for a chance to win the grand prize of $50,000. Stick games promote positive lifestyle choices as the event is drug and alcohol-free. The tournament is open to all ages, providing the opportunity for multi-generational families to learn, share and enjoy the traditional game of Slahal.

Pow Wow Honors Veterans of Native America

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

During the first weekend of June, the Tulalip Tribes hosted the 26th Annual Veterans Pow Wow. The event, located at the Greg Williams Court, attracted a considerable amount of traditional singers and dancers as well as hundreds of onlookers.

Draped in traditional and vibrant regalia, the dancers took to the floor to celebrate Native American culture, while over fifteen drum circles provided the beats throughout the weekend. The bleachers of the gym were overflowing as attendees witnessed various tribal members gather, from across the nation, to honor the Veterans of Native America.

Master of Ceremonies, Vince Beyl, worked alongside Arena Director, Anthony Bluehorse, during the drug and alcohol-free event. Numerous vendors were stationed outside of the gym, selling an array of goods including art, clothing, jewelry, beaded regalia, Pendleton blankets and traditional foods such as frybread and Indian tacos.

Medicine for Our People: Annual Hibulb United Spring Schools Pow Wow

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“This is not a show for your entertainment, this is medicine for our people. We come to this floor seeking healing and it’s important that we continue to teach this to our future generations,” explained Elder and traditional dancer, Charlie Pierce, of the importance of carrying on traditions. “There is a reason we perform at these gatherings; it is not a spectacle.”

The Tulalip and Marysville community showed up in large numbers for the Annual Hibulb United Spring Schools Pow Wow. The recent event was held on Saturday May 13, 2017 at Totem Middle School to celebrate Native American culture with traditional song and dance. Many families traveled, some from as far as Canada, to participate in the festivities. Several drum circles performed including host drum, Indian Heritage.

MC Arlie Neskahi directed the competitions throughout the evening. In between the inter-tribal dances and competitions raffles, donations and birthday wishes were held and books were awarded to every child in attendance willing to dance. This year featured an arts and crafts table for the youth to make traditional Native American art, namely beaded jewelry. Numerous vendors were in attendance, selling an array of items including beaded regalia, art prints, sage, sweet grass, blankets and clothing.