Healing, unity themes of Seafair powwow: United Indians offer first-night free admission to foster fellowship

With an emphasis on peace and unity, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation (UIATF) is throwing open its doors to what CEO Phil Lane calls "the whole human family" to kick off its 21st annual Seafair Indian Days Powwow on Friday, July 21, at Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Discovery Park.

According to Lane, the free admission being offered on the first night of the powwow is a gesture of goodwill and coming together to the community at large. "On Friday evening we're going to take special time to invite all members of the human family to learn how to dance and to share the different sacred protocols of the powwow so everybody can understand the whole process."

Seafair Indian Days, which runs Friday through Sunday, July 23, will include such events as dancing and drumming contests featuring more than 500 dancers and 25 drum groups, arts and crafts instruction, a princess contest, food booths and a salmon bake ($10). Harold Belmont of the Suquamish/Songhees will serve as master of ceremonies, and Claudia Kauffman (Nez Perce) and Joseph Mellon Jr. (Colville/Coeur D'Alene) will be the head woman and man dancers, respectively.

Other special events will include a ceremony honoring veterans; the Bernie Whitebear men's traditional special; Victoria Black Horse teen girl's Jingle Dress Special; Mellon's Veteran's special; Bert Peters Golden Age Men's special; a Tiny Tots special; and a Golden Age women's special sponsored by the UIATF powwow committee.

Admission on Saturday and Sunday is $5; children under 12 get in free. Grand entry times are 7 p.m. Friday, 1 & 7 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.

According to Lane, the tradition of the powwow began in Oklahoma some 150 years ago, and over time "it's been slowly and surely spread to all tribes and nations." Originally, the event-with its focus on dancing and the drawing together of various area tribes-was thrown whenever a new camp was founded.

"It's a time of coming together of families of different tribes to share our culture and everything we've been given throughout the year," Lane said. "It's become the primary gathering to bring together all tribes and nations with one drum beat."

It's "in the spirit of the great unity that's needed at this time in history" that free admission is being offered the opening night of the powwow, explained Lane, who pointed out that the global crisis currently facing civilization is a destructive force that is rending humanity and spoiling the environment.

"As we look around Mother Earth," he said, "we can see the forces of disunity gathering greater and greater strength. That's clearly a path of disintegration and destruction. We know where that path goes to, and we believe it's time for the human family to come together.

"We want to be the first to stand up and do that," Lane added. "There's no greater power we can extend than forgiveness."

Such a gesture of inclusion and fellowship, he said, is "the only path that's going to take us to health and prosperity." Thus, Lane pointed out, the powwow's title this year: "Towards a new beginning... all members of the Human Family warmly welcomed."

In the past, the Seafair Indian Powwow has drawn upwards of 12,000 participants over the course of the alcohol- and drug-free event. "They come from everywhere," Lane said of the attendees, adding that UIATF is placing special emphasis this year on attracting young people and families. "This is a way to renew a new beginning for everyone," he added.

The 21st annual United Indians of All Tribes Foundation Seafair Indian Days runs Friday through Sunday, July 21-23, with free admission being offered on Family Night Friday. Times are: Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Daybreak Star Cultural Center is at 3801 W. Government Way.

For further information, call 829-2207 or visit www.unitedindian.org.

Magnolia News Editor Rick Levin can be reached at (206) 461-1284 or by email at mageditor@nwlink.com.[[In-content Ad]]