By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
In the Francis Sheldon Gym of Heritage High School, drumbeats echoed throughout the room as spectators filled the bleachers to enjoy a night of culture and Christmas. Hosted by Tulalip Youth Services and the Marysville School District, the Third Annual Christmas Powwow and Coastal Jam spread holiday cheer, with traditional song and dance, to the Tulalip community. Mr. and Mrs. Claus handed out presents to the children, donated by Toys for Tots. Led by MCs Randy Vendiola and Arlie Neskahi, the powwow presented the opportunity for community members to spend time with each other, while celebrating Indigenous culture and traditions during this holiday season.
Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University’s two Native American student clubs recently announced that the Grammy-nominated group, Black Lodge Singers, will serve as the Head Drum at their first ever All Nations Student Pow Wow.
“We are really excited,” said Alden Andy, organizer and president of the student club American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) of Heritage University. “This event is all about celebrating and sharing the culture of Native people. Not only is Black Lodge one of the best groups out there, they are from right here in our own community.”
The Pow Wow will take place at Heritage University in Toppenish on Saturday, September 17 starting at 10:00 a.m. with the Grand Entry taking place at 1:00 p.m. It will feature a drumming competition as well as men’s and women’s traditional, fancy, grass and jingle dance competitions for dancers of all ages—from tiny tikes to adults over 55. Several honor dances and intertribal dances, where people from all different cultures are invited to participate, are also planned. The campus will be filled throughout the day with vendors selling food, crafts and other merchandise. Rounding out the day will be a hosted evening meal at 6:00 p.m.
The event truly is a campus-wide affair with students, alumni and supporters taking on lead roles. Long-time supporter Arlen Washines, head of Yakama Nation Higher Education, will serve as the event Master of Ceremonies. Heritage student Jacob Billy and alumnus Haver Jim will split the role of Arena Director. There is even a Heritage tie to the Black Lodge Singers, one of the members of the group, John Scabbyrobe, is an education major in his last year at the university.
HollyAnna Littlebull, also a student and member of AIBL, stresses that one of the things that makes this pow wow different from others is the way it blends elements from traditional pow wows with other elements to make for an welcoming event for all. She explains that it was important to the student organizers to build the drumming, honoring and singing portion of the event according to tradition. However, they felt the need to include the entire campus community in the event planning and participation. Many of the vendors will be student clubs who will be selling food as fundraisers. Additionally, area businesses, non-profit organizations and tribal agencies are invited to host information booths.
“We felt that it was important to build an event that honors our cultural heritage as well as welcomes others to join us and participate,” she said. “By educating we hope to build understanding and unity.”
The Pow Wow is a free event and open to the public. Dancer and drummer registration will open at 11:00 the morning of the event and will remain open until 2:00 p.m. Vendor applications are still being accepted. For more information, visit heritage.edu/powwow.
by Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
The Hibulb United Schools Spring Pow Wow was held at Totem Middle School on Saturday May 14, 2016. The venue was small, however, it was a more intimate setting, which allowed everybody to take part in the festivities. There were five drum circles, and several vendors selling clothing, beadwork, art prints, sage, and sweet grass.
A dinner, featuring hamburger stew, dinner rolls, and fresh fruit, took place before the grand entry. Once everybody made their way to the gym, Totem Middle School Principal, Tarra Patrick, briefly spoke of the importance culture, and keeping traditions alive. MC, Arlie Neskahi, then welcomed everybody and a culture filled night with drums, singing, dancing, competition and laughter followed.
In the middle of the ceremony, all dancers stopped on a whistle, elder Charlie Pierce, signaled for everybody to stop momentarily. “Thank you all for stopping immediately, there is a pressing issue that I must acknowledge right now,” said Pierce, “Three times I was stopped in my tracks, there is somebody here who is hurting, three separate occasions something came to me and told me I have to address this situation.” He then called for complete silence while he prayed for the gym. Pierce continued, “Whoever you are, if you are going through a tough time, then get yourself out here, there is medicine on this dancefloor come and receive your healing.”
The evening really began after that moment; dozens of on-lookers came out and danced, seeking healing, A father, who brought his new born out to dance said “That was amazing, I am not sure if there was a particular person that was addressed to, but there were many people who needed this, and his words gave them the courage to get up, share memories and have some fun.”
In between dances there were raffles, donations, and birthday wishes. Gifts were also handed out. One of the gifts were coloring books for every kid that danced. “I think the books were a great gift, we worked with Everett Community College, and we just wanted to encourage kids to stay in school.” stated committee member Terrance Sabbas,“I am very happy with the turn out, especially because our community had so many events going on in the same night.”
Terrance expressed that the vision of the Hibulb Pow Wow was to create a more traditional experience. “It’s officially Pow Wow season! We just wanted to have a more traditional vibe, we paid drums equally, we had competitions, but we didn’t want it to be about the prizes. We wanted to bring it back to the days where the community got together and enjoyed good song and dance.”