Edmonds Community College’s Native American Student Association hosted their 34th annual powwow, “Restoring the Salish Sea,” last weekend.
Powwows are gatherings to celebrate the Native Americans who live in the U.S. They feature dancing, singing and drum playing by the indigenous people, usually dressed in a variety of different types of regalia. When asked what the powwow means to her, Lia Andrews of the Powwow Committee said, “…when the colonists came and indigenous people were colonized…it actually wasn’t legal for us to host powwows until the 1970s when the American Religious Act passed. So being able to gather together [for powwows]…is just about sharing our traditions with each other and expressing our individual and tribal identities.”
To start the powwow first grand entry Saturday, the dancers — accompanied by the drum circle music — dance their first dance, with the head men’s dancer, Jay Painter, and head women’s dancer, Shannon Hooper, leading the procession. Following them were the various flags celebrating nationality as well as the eagle staff, which is viewed as sacredly important in the powwow ceremony.
After a prayer and song by a revered tribe member, U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen made an appearance. “The Native American people make a great contribution to our culture and our community,” Larsen said. “I’m honored to stand here to celebrate and to welcome you to this great celebration at Edmonds Community College.”
With the congressman’s final words, the festivities began, with various dance groups taking to the floor throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
— Story and photos by Ariana Burr
Ariana Burr, a sophomore at Edmonds-Woodway High School, is an intern for My Edmonds News, MLTnews and Lynnwood Today.