Lub-dub, lub-dub. The drumming sounded like a heartbeat. The vibrant colors of the regalia-special dress worn for the festival-flashed before the audience's eyes when the performers danced.
Only when the movement stopped and the audience got close to the performers did they see the intricate beadwork that was hand-stitched onto the regalia.
The dance was part of the 25th annual Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow, held July 16-18 at Discovery Park. People from around the country attended, including tribal members from Alaska, Idaho and Florida. Several Canadian tribes also participated.
To a lot of people, the Pow Wow is more than a festival of praying, dancing and singing; it's a place they consider home.
Ronald Huntingbear, of the Flathead Reservation, who has been a vendor at Seafair for 20 years, looks forward to the Pow Wow each year.
"I get to be with my Indian friends and stay in touch with the culture," Huntingbear said.
For others, the Pow Wow is a place to give thanks. Performer Auriel Johnny, of the Cowichan and Tlingit tribes, said, "This is a place to gather with family and friends, to give praise and thanks in the circle."
During Saturday's activities, performers danced competitively and in large groups with their tribal members in the Grand Entries event. During the Coastal Grand Entry, tribes entered the field dancing and singing. According to one performer, dancers ranged in age from 2 to 89.
James Smith, who drove up from Tacoma with his wife, said that to him, the Pow Wow is an exciting, international celebration of native sovereignty.
"I see the oneness of man. I see it in the people and feel it in the grounds. It's quite uplifting," said Smith, who added that he saw the importance of family while watching the dancing.
"Watching generations of all [dancers] demonstrates the importance of family-the family of man."[[In-content Ad]]