Local schools come together for ‘United Schools Celebration’ pow wow
By KIRK BOXLEITNER
Marysville Globe Reporter
May 19, 2009 · 3:29 PM
MARYSVILLE — Totem Middle School hosted a unique gathering May 16, that a number of its participants hope might become a new tradition.
The Everett Community College First Nations Club, the Marysville-Pilchuck High School United Native Club and the Tulalip Heritage High School came together to conduct the first “United Schools Celebration” pow wow in the Totem Middle School gym, with grand entries held at both 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on May 16.
Paula Three Stars, advisor for the EvCC First Nations Club, and Matt Remle, advisor for the M-PHS United Native Club, explained that Three Stars contacted Remle in the fall of last year, after learning that the college gym, built in 1958, was scheduled to close this summer. That gym had hosted 18 previous annual Hibulb pow wows, so EvCC needed a new home for their pow wow. At the same time, M-PHS typically conducts its pow wows annually in the spring, so when Remle was approached by Three Stars, he not only saw an opportunity for their two schools to collaborate, but also recruited the Tulalip Heritage High School for the event.
“The title of the pow wow is ‘strength through unity,’” Remle said. “We wanted to build a stronger relationship between the high school and the college. The past few years, a number of our high school graduates have gone on to Everett Community College. This is an opportunity for those students to make relationships and connect with both students and faculty at Everett Community College, and vice versa. Everett Community College wants to do more outreach into the high schools, since Native American students tend to have lower enrollment numbers in college.”
Timothy Williams was the first member of the Tulalip Yakima Spee-bi-dah drum group to prepare for the 6 p.m. grand entry. His group honors the memories of its former lead members — Matthew Williams, his brother, who passed away in 1984, and Christina Williams, his cousin, who passed away three years ago. He also hopes his drumming will make a difference in the future of his family.
“I want to help their kids, who go to school here, and my son, Jeremiah, by putting good medicine on this floor,” Williams said.
Graham, Wash., resident Catherine Campbell, a Seminole born in Oklahoma, has literally lost count of how many pow wows she’s attended.
“This is our second year coming here,” said Campbell, as she helped her 7-year-old son, Skyler, don his regalia. “It’s important that our children learn their culture, and this is one way of passing it on.”
Tulalip Indian Sonny Jack, of Darrington, outfitted his own son, 11-year-old Terrell, for the May 16 pow wow, which is the fourth one they’ve attended this year.
“We’re heading to Auburn for another one next weekend,” Jack said. “I’ve been attending pow wows for 10 years, and my son has been dancing in them the last four. We travel to different reservations, uniting with each other. This is a drug-free program. You don’t see people drinking alcohol here. Everybody laughing and happy to meet people that they haven’t seen all winter.”
Rachel Bigby, a Sauk-Suiattle Indian, braided the hair of her Assiniboine Indian husband, David, in preparation for his dancing, while he held their 2-year-old son, Brandon.
“I’m getting the little one into it,” said David Bigby, before laughing, “I fought it every step of the way, when I was his age. I just wanted to play in the dirt. The main reason I dance is for the people who can’t, because they’re either too old, too sick or too shy to do it. I’d encourage anyone to do it. It doesn’t matter what nation you are, or even if you’re native or non-native, as long as you do it with respect.”
Remle noted that 100 percent of the proceeds from vendor fees, raffle ticket sales and concessions at the pow wow went toward a scholarship fund for the Marysville School District. The event featured not only traditional Native American dancing, singing and drumming, from coastal, plains and eastern tribes alike, but also included arts and crafts, the honoring of veterans, and even free dinners for all attendees.
“When people see you giving away food for free, a lot of them find that shocking, because they’re not used to that,” said Remle, who pointed out that Hawaiian dancers were also part of the program, since they’re also indigenous people. “This is a mixture of cultures that brings folks together. It’s cool like that,” he laughed.Contact Marysville Globe Reporter Kirk Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-659-1300 Ext. 5052.