|Boys and men in the opening parade of costumes|
The Wallowa Band is the band I write about in my Spirit Trilogy. The one that at the time of my youth growing up in the county the only presence I knew of the tribe was the statue at the head of Wallowa lake and when the Nez Perce would show up for the Chief Joseph Days rodeo.
These peaceful Indians had worked hard at remaining friends with the whiteman. They did everything they could to stay in their beloved Wallowa Valley. The treaty of 1855 included the valley in the reservation. Old Joseph, who converted to Christianity in 1839 and was given the name Joesph, signed this treaty, and his band lived in the county peacefully until gold was discovered in the boundaries in 1861.
The new treat of 1863 excluded the valley and Joseph refused to sign or move his people. He died a year before the whiteman began settling in the valley. His oldest son, Young Joseph took over as chief of the band. He tried to keep peace with the intruders and not have his people forcefully removed from their homes.
By 1877, the government sent General Oliver Howard to ask Joseph to move his people to the reservation or be forcefully removed. Even though the path to the reservation was treacherous, for they had to cross the
Snake River when it was swollen with spring run off, he started his 400 members, 60 of which were warriors toward the reservation. Angry young warriors on a raid killed several whitemen and trying to avoid a war, Joseph and several other chiefs of the non-treaty bands decided to try to flee.
This 1,400 mile chase not only took the lives of many Nez Perce it also made the government mad. When the army finally caught up to and captured the starving and tired Nez Perce they sent them to reservations thousands of miles away from their home. They weren't allowed to return to the Northwest for 8 years. When they were finally returned, Joseph was sent to the Coleville Reservation in Washington. He petitioned until his death to have his people returned to the Wallowa Valley.
The Tamkaliks Celebration is the return of the Wallowa Band to the valley. They celebration is held on land they own near Wallowa. It is slowly being made into an interpretive center where visitors and the locals can learn about the people who first inhabited the fertile valley raising fast, sure-footed appaloosas and living off the land.
|Part of the riders|
There was a flag ceremony with the American, Canadian, and military flags and feather staffs carried in with the dancers in full costumes following behind.
|Young women during the flag ceremony|
The afternoon was filled with dancing and dance competitions. The beat of the drums felt like the heart beat of the earth as the dancers moved to the beat and language of their ancestors.
Unfortunately the heat, and I believe the meal I had the night before, took a toll on me and I didn't stick around for the adult contests, though I saw some wonderful costumes and individuals I would have liked to see dance. I had a two hour drive back to my daughter's and left to make sure I made it back.
|This was a group dance, all ages|
I was invited to come back next year and I've already marked it on my calendar.
If you haven't been to a powwow, I highly recommend you go. It will fill you with a new gratitude for life, nature, and people.