Powwow honors Nez Perce presence

The horse parade signifies natives returning to their homelands in the Wallowa Valley. This year’s parade starts 9 a.m. July 23 as part of the 26th annual Tamkaliks Celebration.

WALLOWA — The Nez Perce presence in the Wallowa Valley is still strong, recently completing a longhouse for spiritual connection and currently preparing for the 26th annual Tamkaliks Celebration.

The powwow, organized by the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center, is a three-day celebration of the Nez Perce presence in the Wallowa Valley, which will take place July 22-24.

The powwow begins with social dancing at 7 p.m. July 22.

According to the WBNPTIC’s Nancy Crenshaw, the horse parade, which will begin at 9 a.m. July 23, represents the notion of returning to the homeland.

“Natives dress in regalia and ride down from the mountains to signify the return of displaced ancestors to their lands,” Crenshaw said.

At 1 p.m., there will be more social dancing, as well as contest dancing.

The event program describes several aspects of the contest dancing to watch for.

“While the dancers are competing with one another, they are also in contest with the drummers and singers,” it reads. “A drum group may sing a trick song with many surprise stops.”

The contests categories are based on age, gender and style of dance.

Following the contest dances, Grand Entries will take place at 7 p.m. along with the Women’s Special and Veteran’s Dance.

Activities resume at 9 a.m. July 24 for the Washat Services, a church service.

The Friendship Feast, which begins at noon, is a potluck meal. Crenshaw said natives will provide the meat and salmon, and the community will bring the sides.

The finals in the contest dancing will begin at 2 p.m.

The Tamkaliks celebration will also include vendors and a raffle with 70 to 80 prizes, according to Crenshaw. The main prize is a buffalo robe, and the raffle will help fund the powwow.

Additionally, visitors to the powwow will notice a new structure on the grounds.

“This will be our first year with the longhouse,” Crenshaw said. “It is a beautiful building, and we are really proud to have it.”

Crenshaw said the longhouse will not be open to the general public, as it is a spiritual place for Nez Perce.

She did say, however, that the public is welcome to view the building from the outside
during the powwow.

Similarly, the event’s program reads that the celebration might be viewed as entertainment to some, due to the singing and dancing, but the public is expected to treat the spiritual legacy of the powwow with respect.

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