Christmas came early for numerous Indigenous families as hundreds gathered at the Francy J. Sheldon Gymnasium for the annual holiday powwow at Tulalip. Holiday cheer was spread through the deep and rhythmic beats from the round drum this year, and also through the captivating and intricate steps of a number of Native dancers. Whether the dance was traditional, fancy shawl, or jingle dress, the gym was rocking throughout the entire three-hour event.
2023 marked the tenth year of the annual powwow which is a community favorite looked forward to each holiday season. The powwow is a collaboration between the Marysville School District Indian Education department and the Tulalip Education Division and features dance competitions for cash prizes. You often hear that this is the season of giving, and this was on full display as several young dancers forewent their cash prizes during the evening and instead gifted the money to elders in the crowd.
In addition to the drumming, singing, and display of astonishing regalia, the people were also treated to a meal and had an opportunity to peruse and purchase last minute gifts at the mini bazaar located across campus at the Marysville Mountain View Arts and Technology High School. Dozens of vendors set up shop and sold items such as beadwork, clothing, blankets, and cedar weavings.
Down the corridor of Marysville Arts and Tech, Santa Claus worked his magic and turned a common area of the school into his workshop for the night. Each kid in attendance received a toy of their choosing. There were Nerf guns galore, board games in abundance, puzzles o’ plenty, and countless plastic characters up for grabs. And that’s not to mention the large selection of books that included everything from picture books to graphic novels.
Once it was confirmed that each child had picked out a toy, there was still a plethora of gifts left over from Santa’s visit. The kids were once again invited to the workshop to add more items to their powwow haul. The event closed with the ever-popular cake walk in which all of the cakes were decorated with Christmas themes such as Santa’s suit, Christmas trees, and Frosty the Snowman.
Following the wonderful clash of culture and Christmas, MSD Indian Education Dept. Coordinator, Matt Remle, shared in a Facebook post, “Lila wopila tanka to all the families, drummers, singers, dancers, volunteers, cooks, staff, and janitors that came out and together for our annual holiday powwow wachipi. Can’t believe we just held our 10th annual! As always, our only goal is to bring some smiles and joy to the community. Waste po.”
By Kalvin Valdillez; photos by Wade Sheldon and Kalvin Valdillez
Hundreds of Tulalip members stood upon a small bluff overlooking Tulalip Bay. Draped in traditional garb, the women and young ladies adorned shawls and ribbon skirts while the men and boys wore vests and ribbon shirts. Cedar woven headbands, hats, and jewelry were the accessories of choice, as well as bandanas, eagle feathers, and beaded medallions. The kids gasped with excitement and pointed out into the distance of the bay. With traditional hand drums and rattles, the people sang hikw siyab yubəč, and greeted the first king salmon of the season to the village as he arrived at the shore on a cedar dugout canoe.
“Today is our 47th annual Salmon Ceremony, that was revived 47 years ago,” said Tulalip Chairwoman, Teri Gobin. “We’re honoring hikw siyab yubəč, big chief king salmon. Welcoming him and showing him how well our community will treat him, so he will go back to the village under the sea and let them know he was treated well at Tulalip. And we’ll have a bountiful season. And it will also bless our fishermen to protect them from the storms and the weather and make sure they come home safe.”
As one of the main staples of their ancestral diet, the relationship between the salmon and the sduhubš is strong. The traditional belief is that Tulalips are descendants of the Salmon People who live in a village under the Salish Sea. At the beginning of every fishing season, the king salmon send a scout to the waters of Tulalip Bay, and it is his duty to report back to the Salmon People about his time spent amongst the tribal nation.
In the early 90’s, Tulalip leader Bernie ‘Kai Kai’ Gobin penned a retelling of the traditional Tulalip story, the Salmon People, for the Marysville School District. Kai Kai shared, “The story goes that there is a tribe of Salmon People that live under the sea. And each year, they send out scouts to visit their homelands. And the way that the Snohomish people recognize that it’s time for the salmon scouts to be returning to their area is when, in the spring, a butterfly comes out. And the first person to see that butterfly will run, as fast as they can, to tell our chiefs or headmen, or now they are called the chairman. One of the other ways they recognize that the salmon scouts are returning is when the wild spirea tree blooms. The people call it the ironwood tree, and that’s what they use for fish sticks and a lot of other important things, like halibut hooks. It’s a very hard wood. So, when they see either one of these, a tribal member will tell the chairman, and he immediately sends out word to the people and calls them together in the longhouse for a huge feast and celebration to give honor to the visitors that are coming.”
Keeping with the tradition that extends across thousands of years, the Tulalip community prepares for the arrival of the scout weeks in advance. The tribe plans a special honoring for the salmon, thanking the local Indigenous species for providing healthy nourishment for the people year after year.
“This is a ceremony that our people have done since time immemorial, since we were salmon,” explained tribal member, Chelsea Craig. “It was a commitment to our people under the sea that we would carry on this tradition. And when colonizers came and tried to stop us from practicing our ways, it went underground. And our ancestors maintained that knowledge and passed it through oral traditions. And when it was safe for us to bring it back, our elders brought it back. It’s our responsibility to keep that going until there is no more time.”
Along with the practice of spiritual work, the Lushootseed language, songs, dances, hunting, gathering, and traditional ceremonies were outlawed by the US government at the beginning of the 20thcentury. During this time, Indian boarding schools were established, and children were forcibly removed from their families. The kids were to learn the ways of the ‘new world’ and abandon their traditional lifeways. It was a dangerous time to be Native American.
Decades passed by and the Salmon Ceremony was all but lost. However, thanks to a number of boarding school survivors, bits and pieces of those ancestral teachings were held onto while they endured the tragedies of assimilation. And in the mid-70’s, after the Meriam Report of 1928 helped abolish the majority of Indian boarding schools throughout the country, Harriette Shelton-Dover called upon her community. Forming a small group comprised of Tulalip, Swinomish, and Lummi elders, Harriette ushered in a new era for the sduhubš people with the revitalization of the Salmon Ceremony in 1976.
Teri recounted, “My father [Stan Jones Sr.] was one of the main people to work with the elders to bring the Salmon Ceremony back. A lot of these songs were almost lost. It was Harriette Shelton Dover and all these iconic elders that wanted to make sure this was carried on. That was so important. My mom was the one who brought the cakes, and we would visit and write everything down to keep it for future generations. And that’s what’s most important, that these young ones are learning now.”
Tulalip’s future, some merely a few weeks old, were fully immersed in the ceremony, with their regalia and ancestral knowledge on full display. Accounting for over half of those in attendance, the youth put on their sduhubš warrior faces and treated the gathering with the utmost importance and sincerity. Each time they entered the sacred space of the Tulalip longhouse, they went in focused on the work taking place and beamed with Tulalip pride.
“It felt so good in the longhouse,” exclaimed Chelsea. “It felt like we were bringing pride to our ancestors. It felt like a longhouse full of love. It felt good today. And to see all the kids, I was sitting down watching them, and it overwhelmed me with pride. Our young ones are taking up this culture with their full selves.”
Tulalip youth Rajalion Robinson expressed, “This was my first year at the Salmon Ceremony. It was really nice to learn more about my culture, especially during the practices. My favorite part of the ceremony was dancing to the Welcome Song.”
Upon witnessing the youth arriving at the year’s ceremony, Teri said, “It’s exciting because what it brings is all this culture and knowledge to the children so they can pass it on. I’m really excited about how many youth we have involved. We actually almost need a longer longhouse to accommodate all the children.”
In total, ten songs and blessings are offered at the Salmon Ceremony. And those powerful chants were amplified by all the voices of the young people this year. From start to finish, the kids were engaged and sang with booming voices that echoed out of the longhouse and rippled across the bay. The ten songs are offered in the following order:
The Welcome Song
Sduhubš War Song
Eagle/Owl Song (Tribute to Kai Kai)
Blessing of the Fisherman
Listen to our Prayers
hikw siyab yubəč
The Happy Song
Table Blessing Song
Canoe Song (Kenny Moses Jr.’s Song)
New Beginnings Cleansing Song (Glen’s Song)
Once the guest of honor is welcomed into the longhouse, he is escorted on a bed of cedar branches to the Greg Williams Court where a feast ensues. The people share the first bite of salmon together as one tribe.
“This first piece is representative of us all sharing the blessing of the yubəč,” said Salmon Ceremony leader, Glen Gobin, as he addressed the participants at the gym. “I ask that we all eat this piece at the same time together. Now, I’m going to ask that we all take our water and drink it together. This clear water represents the purity of life, and the lifegiving waters in which the salmon come from. Now I’m going to ask that we all eat this wonderful meal together.”
After the meal, the people return the remains of the scout back to the waters so he can complete his journey back to the village of the Salmon People and tell his relatives about his journey to the sduhubš territory. To show their appreciation to the tribe for the special honoring, the salmon will travel to Tulalip Bay throughout the season to continue providing sustenance for the people.
Derek Prather, Tulalip member and parent shared, “It’s a beautiful ceremony and I’m grateful to be able to share it with my kids, help cook the fish, and take part in the ceremony with the community. I’ve been doing it since I was my son’s age, 5 years old. My uncle was Stan Jones who helped restart the Salmon Ceremony, so it’s important to pass this on to my kids. I’m really grateful to see so many kids show up today. It warms my heart to see that.”
The following message is an excerpt from the 2023 Salmon Ceremony program:
This year’s Salmon Ceremony is dedicated to Donald ‘Penoke’ Hatch Jr. He was on the Tulalip Board of Directors for 27 years. And for every year he served on the board, he fought to keep the Salmon Ceremony and any activity for our youth alive here at Tulalip. Penoke was also on the Marysville School Board for 16 years to help keep our children in school. For all his hard work supporting our children, the Tribe named the new youth center gym after him. Our hands go up to him for all he has done for our tribe.
During the feast, and moments before taking a generational photo as a member of the king salmon carriers of the ceremony, Penoke shared a few words about the special honoring. He said, “Right now, I’m going through a lot with my health. I’m not feeling too good because of my cancer and the medicine I take. But it makes me feel good when I wake up in the morning to another day. Today was a really special day and it was tremendous for me. My life here on the reservation, all the cultural going-ons and all the things that I’ve done in my lifetime, it’s coming back to me. And I appreciate our people for recognizing me and the years that I participated in education, sports and just in our community. Our tribe has given us so many things that we need to appreciate more. We have to appreciate each other more. We have to love each other more than yesterday. That’s the most important thing.”
With the arrival of snow, the amazing display of lights at the Tulalip Amphitheater, children on their best behavior in hopes to score big this year, and Mariah Carey blasting from speakers at just about every retail store you visit, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This time of year is special for local Indigenous families and their students who attend the Marysville School District (MSD) because Tulalip is home to an annual gathering where Christmas and culture collide.
Previously held on a consecutive basis before the pandemic hit, the Tulalip Education Division and the MSD Indian Education Department’s annual holiday powwow makes its official return on Saturday, December 17th. Many are anticipating the sound of jingle dresses and regalia to help celebrate the holiday season, accompanied of course by the deep and beautiful tone of the round drum.
At holiday powwows of Christmas past, hundreds of people took part in this festive occasion. Whether they hit the dancefloor for the fancy, shawl, jingle or couple’s dances, sang in one of the multiple drum circles, visited with St. Nicholas at Santa’s Workshop, perused the numerous vendor stands for the perfect Christmas gift, or participated in the ever popular cake walk, attendees experienced the Christmas spirit first-hand, Indigenous style. And after the event was postponed for two years in a row, everyone is excited to gather for the holiday powwow in all its splendor once again.
“The foundation of our powwow is to uplift the hearts and spirits of our community,” expressed MSD Native Liaison, Zee Jimicum. “Gathering is a very healing tradition that our people deeply value. Being together keeps us connected. The challenge to stay connected during the pandemic was exacerbated for our communities because we couldn’t gather. We are looking forward to reconnecting with our families and community as we gather to celebrate life. I am not the only one looking forward to our 7th annual holiday powwow, our team is excited to bring our community together again!”
The holiday powwow takes place at the Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium and the Marysville-Tulalip Campus from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Grand Entry is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. This is a catered event and food will be available to all who shows. Arlie Neskahi is locked in as the Powwow MC, Rocking Horse will serve as Host Drum, and the honor of Head Man and Head Woman is held by Devon Bluehorse and Isabelle Jefferson respectively. Since dinner will be provided, there will be no food vendors, but if you are interested hosting a vendor stand there is a $40 fee with a limit of one six-foot table (must bring own table).
For additional vendor information, please contact Zee Jimicum at (425) 232-0166 or Zenitha_Jimicum@msvl.k12.wa.us. And for further questions, feel free to reach out to Matt Remle at (360) 965-2100 or Matthew_Remle@msvl.k12.wa.us, as well as Terrance Sabbas at (206) 484-6907 or Terrace_Sabbas@msvl.k12.wa.us.
On October 14, the University of Washington hosted a Tulalip-led coastal jam as part of it’s back to school celebration. The mission was to empower the university’s Native American student population, while embracing the rich culture and traditions of local Coast Salish tribes.
Tulalip tribal member Chenoa Henry, former manager of the Grants and Self-Governance department, was announced as the new director of UW’s wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Intellectual House back in August. The 30-year-old husky alum wasted no time in coordinating the campus-based longhouse’s first ever coastal jam.
“After an inspiration lunch with Puyallup tribal member Danica Miller, where we pondered different ways to bring music, drumming, singing and all that kind of life and medicine into this UW longhouse space, a coastal jam just made sense,” said Chenoa, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ director. “I started the planning phase by reaching out to my cousins Thomas and Cary Michael Williams. They helped me out so much during this entire process by announcing and posting about the jam at other gatherings. The turnout was better than I could’ve imagined.”
The Intellectual House is a longhouse-style facility on the UW Seattle campus. It provides a multi-service learning and gathering space for Native students, faculty and staff, as well as others from various cultures and communities to come together in a welcoming environment to share knowledge. Its purpose came to life during the coastal jam as cohorts of tribal members from Tulalip, Lummi and Puyallup gave the longhouse a drum heartbeat and enchanting voice that rang out to anyone within earshot.
During the three-hour coastal jam, Native culture bearers from four different generations drummed, sang, and shared their culture to those who sat inside or stood outside looking onward in complete amazement. The seemingly endless supply of energy from the elementary and middle school aged Native dancers was contagious to the older generations who happily shared the floor.
“In bringing a coastal jam here to the UW, I’m healing my past version of myself who did not have access to such events or community as an undergrad,” shared Chenoa. “To witness our Native students and other minority students who showed up because they felt like they are a part of something, actually embracing our sense of community on campus, it just shows how much the university, it’s students and our culture has grown.
“For the future generations and all the young ones who helped express what it means to be Coast Salish, I want them to keep coming back and to know they belong here. I want that sense of belonging to be ingrained in them long before its time to apply for college.”
The University of Washington is estimated to have less than 1% Native student population, according to Data USA, yet with so many casino tribes in Washington State paying near full tuition rates for their tribal members seeking a college education, that number should be much higher. It’s the hope of student advocate Hailey Enick, First Nations @ UW co-chair and Tulalip tribal member, that hosting more culturally relevant events while being more welcoming to the original stewards of this land could cause UW to see a significant increase in its Native student admissions.
“To me the Intellectual House feels like a piece of home on campus. Hosting a coastal jam is only appropriate then with our mission to make our Native students feel comfortable and let them know our culture is celebrated,” explained Hailey, a fourth-year undergad student studying Education. “It was important we make this event coastal specific because we don’t have many events that are actually geared to our coastal traditions. We are on coastal lands, the traditional lands of Coast Salish people. Showcasing our space and traditions while building community with new students is how we bridge cultures and understanding.
“UW First Nations does host a big powwow every year and that’s cool, but these coastal songs are the sounds that I recognize, these are the sounds that I grew up with from home,” she added. “Powwow music is amazing in its own right, but it shouldn’t be synonymous with the tribes of this area. We have our own music, our own sounds and traditions.
“My fellow students gaining insight to the beauty we have at home in Tulalip is amazing and healing and makes me feel comfortable to succeed as not just a UW student, but a proud Tulalip tribal member as well. It’s still early in the new academic year and I’m already so proud of the Native community we’ve built here. There is so much Native representation and culture on display every day. I’ve seen so many pairs of beaded earrings and vibrantly colored ribbons skirts already. I look forward to seeing many more in the future.”
As successful as the evening of coastal culture on the UW campus was, it’s even more significant from the standpoint that two culturally grounded and college educated Tulalip women are implementing, in the real time, the changes that so many of the generations before could only dream of.
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.”
“To me, Indigenous means being proud of who you are and where you come from; remembering your ancestry and all that they’ve doneto get us to where we are right now; and to educate our youth to be strong asNative People and to love themselves so our cultureand 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.
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.
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.”
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.