A pow wow originally organized to remind Oregonians that Native peoples inhabited the Pacific Northwest long before statehood will be held for the seventh time in late January.
The seventh annual Gathering of Oregon’s First Nations Powwow will be held on January 24, at the Oregon State Fair & Expo Center’s Salem Pavilion. This year’s theme is “Standing Strong: Culture and Sovereignty.” Admission is free. “We do traditional, but focus on northwest,” Public Affairs Director Siobhan Taylor told ICTMN about the event. “We’re a little different out here.”
The pow wow was first organized cooperatively in 2009 by the federally-recognized tribes: The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw; Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians; and the Coquille Indian Tribe in west Oregon because they wanted to remind Oregonians that Native peoples have lived on the land for thousands of years before it became a state on Feb. 14, 1859. The late January event date was symbolically picked to occur before Oregon’s official 150th birth date, in order to commemorate the history that occurred before admittance to the Union.
“The four tribes have gotten together every year, and have had an incredible response from Native people and non-Native people to teach people what our culture is [about],” Taylor said.
Based on the success of the previous pow wows, the organizers decided to continue holding the event annually. Last year, more than 1,500 people attended, and Taylor said that they expect at least 1500-2000 people to attend, “pending football games” she said laughing.
In 2014, Brenda Meade, of the Coquille Indian Tribe, told The Oregonian, “We all have our own culture within our tribes,” said Meade, “but this is a time for us to sing the same songs and dance the same dances.”
The master of ceremonies will be Nick Sixkiller, arena director will be Tony Whitehead and the vendor coordinator is Chelsea Clark.
Tribal educational booths, Native craft demonstrations, cultural drumming and dancing, and hands-on activities for children will be set up for attendees. Taylor said that all vendors are tribal vendors, and will sell northwest Native-made goods.
The event begins at Noon, and the grand entry will be held at 1 p.m. The event ends at 9p.m.
“Tribal people still continue to practice our tradition and honor our culture, but we’re still very progressive communities and have accomplished a lot over the generations,” Taylor said.