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Sauk-Suiattle Tribe brings colorful tradition with annual powwow

Dan Nanamkin, Colville/Nez Perce from Nespelem wins first place in the Chicken Dance among the men dancers at the Sauk-Suiattle Powwow Aug. 25 at the Darrington Bluegrass Music Park. Due to rain, the -
Dan Nanamkin, Colville/Nez Perce from Nespelem wins first place in the Chicken Dance among the men dancers at the Sauk-Suiattle Powwow Aug. 25 at the Darrington Bluegrass Music Park. Due to rain, the
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DARRINGTON Fantastic elaborate costumes brought color and joy among dancers, drummers and spectators who attended the Sauk-Suiattle Tribes eighth annual powwow Aug. 24-26.
Weve had about 300 to 400 people here from across Washington state and beyond, said the Sauk-Suiattle Chairperson Janice Mabee.
She said that it was a very successful weekend, thanks in part to the emcee, Gilbert Brown, who came from Portland for the event.
Its up to the emcee to keep the audience interested, she said.
Gilbert has done a great job at keeping the program moving.
Indeed, he added empathetic feedback with comments, like, Wow, I broke a sweat just watching that one. Gilbert entertained the crowd between dances with little diversions, like when he polled the audience for supporters of Huskies versus Cougar fans it was clearly a Husky crowd.
The dancers prefer to dance on the soft ground rather than the concrete floor of the long house, but it got so wet Saturday afternoon, they moved the event inside the post and beam structure at the reservation north of Darrington.
Dancers competed in several different age categories, men over 45 and younger men, teens, and elder women, young adults and teen dancers, all dressed in costumes of multi-colored ribbons and feathers, robes coated with bells that add to the rhythm of the drummers and chanting, wearing slippers and belts and vests of decorated with thousands of tiny seed beads creating colorful patterns that sometimes reflects their place of origin or clan, or not. Often, the choice of costume simply reflects the dancers own taste and personality, according to one of the adult male dancers. Shago Duba, who is also known Ralph Akers, is of the Ta Pa Clan in the Omaha Nation, and he now lives in Emerson. He waited patiently for his turn to dance, watching the others carefully.
We come here to get a good feeling in our hearts, he said, adding that the men are always the last to dance.
Its a test of patience, he chuckled. Akers explained the reason he likes to dance is that it helps him feel strong.
I see it as a living prayer, he said. When you start dancing you really want to dance your heart out. He tries to attend about two powwows a month during the summer powwow season.
Mabee acknowledged her vice chair Ronda Metcalf for pulling all the pieces together.
Its a big job planning a powwow. You have to select and invite an arena director, the headman dancer and the drumming groups.
Weve been having powwows for ever, but this is the second time to hold it at the bluegrass grounds, Metcalf said. It was her children who stepped down as last years royalty. Her daughter, Gloria Metcalf and her son, Lance Metcalf to be replaced with new royalty, Miranda Pickernell, and Alexis Metcalf, Rondas niece.
It came together real good, Mabee said toward the end of the day Sunday.

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