For the 26th year in a row, possibly the largest party in Portland on New Year’s eve was held at the Oregon Convention Center, where thousands of American Indians, and their friends, poured in to close out the year in style—without alcohol.
The Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA) of the Northwest threw their New Year’s Eve Sobriety Pow Wow, with more than 4,000 people attending. Bill Graves, writing for The Oregonian, spoke to Jackie Mercer, the chief executive officer of NARA, which provides drug and alcohol treatment, as well as other health care and social services, to American Indians in the Portland area.
“NARA has had a tremendous impact working with the community in creating a clean and sober community, and you can see it and feel it when you come to the powwow,” Mercer told The Oregonian. “If you want to measure the success of NARA, come to the powwow.”
The event, which was free, began in stages, starting at 1 pm and going until midnight. There was pow wow dancing, jewelry, clothing, soap, sage, bitterroot and smoke salmon on sale from vendors, with the constant heartbeat of seven drum circles throughout. The flags during the Grand Entry were presented by members of the Northwest Indian Veterans Association.
Now that’s how you bring in the new year.