Powwow brings together families

Sa’Heh’Wa’Mish Days attracts thousands to South Sound to celebrate traditions, friends

ckrotzer@theolympian.comFebruary 17, 2013 

CORRECTION: The location of the Sa'Heh'Wa'Mish Days powwow was incorrectly stated in print and online. The event was held at Little Creek Casino in the Skookum Creek Event Center on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2013.

Drum beats echoed in the Little Creek Casino convention center Saturday as hundreds of tribal dancers lined up for their grand entrance.

The beating drums were accompanied by whoops, jingling bells and pounding feet of dancers dressed in multi-colored traditional clothes during the Sa’Heh’Wa’Mish Days powwow.

Tracy Aalvik of Kelso and her 6-year-old daughter, Kayla, were wearing deep red and royal blue garb, representing the Tlingit tribe of Alaska.

An eagle outlined with white beads was on Aalvik’s back, while a brown bear was embroidered on Kayla’s. They wore headbands woven by members of the Chehalis tribe, and added their own decorative flare.

It was their first time to Sa’Heh’Wa’Mish Days, but they try to hit at least five powwows each year.

“We like meeting up with friends and obviously enjoy the drumming,” Aalvik said. “I love the drumming.”

The farthest the mother and daughter have gone for a powwow was to Salem, Ore. People from as far as Montana and the Dakotas made it to Saturday’s powwow.

The event usually attracts between 2,500 and 3,000 people, according to Squaxin Island Tribe Chairman David Lopeman.

He said the highlight of the celebration held annually since the 1980s is the gathering of family and friends.

“Seeing family we don’t see but once or twice a year, and a review of friendships, shaking hands with other reservations – it’s a big deal to our people,” Lopeman said.

Nadia Mosqueda of Longview brought her two daughters to the powwow Saturday. The family planned to stay the night.

“You run into a lot of family and friends,” she said.

Her daughters, ages 9 and 4, have been dancing for years. Both wore outfits covered in bells as part of the jingle dancing group.

Those who attended also had a variety of tribal food and goods to purchase from vendors at the casino and outside the convention center.

Charlene Krise — who is a Squaxin Island Tribal Council member and executive director of the Museum, Library and Research Center — picked up a jar of soap berries.

“They can be made into an Indian ice cream,” she said, shaking the jar of red berries.

A tablespoon can feed up to eight people, Krise said.

“It’s bitter, not sweet like the ice cream you are used to,” she said. “It’s a frothy, very nutritious cleansing for your system and with the berries, it’s so delicious.”

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 ckrotzer@theolympian.com theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer

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