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Suquamish youth keeping language alive; Chief Seattle Days Royalty crowned

SUQUAMISH — Dressed in handmade outfits of traditional clothing, 11 youth prepared speeches and introductions — some in Lushootseed, the Suquamish language — and told their community why they wanted to represent Chief Seattle Days.

Suquamish hosted the Chief Seattle Days Royalty Pageant Aug. 17 on the lawn in front of the House of Awakened Culture.

Those that earn the crown represent the Tribe at several events throughout the year, on and off the reservation. The contestants were paddled in on Suquamish canoes, a reenactment of a traditional welcoming ceremony, according to Joey Holmes, Docent Program facilitator at the Suquamish Museum.

The judges — Megan Feeny of the Suquamish Education Department, Katie Ahvakana of the Healing of the Canoe, Melanie Cheung of the Ngati Rangitini Maori, Swift Sanchez of Suquamish Police and Pat John of Ahousaht First Nation — asked contestants what cultural activities they're involved in, why they wanted to be Princess or Warrior, and how they would help their elders, peers and community as a Suquamish representative.

Sequoia Chargualaf, 13, followed in his older brother Vincent's footsteps, who was crowned Renewal Pow Wow Warrior in March. Sequoia was crowned Chief Seattle Days Warrior. He said he wants to help keep  youth drug and alcohol free, and encourage them to be more involved in cultural activities.

"When I become an elder, I want to teach the youth" about his experience as Chief Seattle Days royalty, Sequoia said.

Raven Roberts won over the judges and earned the crown of Junior Miss Chief Seattle Days Princess. Raven takes Lushootseed language classes, and said her goal is to help more people in the Tribe speak the language once again.

"If our language dies, the culture dies," Raven said.

Jazmine Lawrence was last year's Miss Chief Seattle Days Princess and liked the role so much she ran again this year, unopposed. Jazmine said she has participated in 14 Canoe Journeys, and is only 16.

She echoed many of her peers, dedicating her position to encouraging more youth participation in cultural events and learning the language.

Chief Seattle Days
Outgoing Royalty (2011-12)
Warrior Ryan Sigo
Miss Chief Seattle Days Princess Jazmine Lawrence
Junior Warrior Kamiakin Guinn
Junior Miss Chief Seattle Days Princess Hailey Crow
Tiny Tot Princess Celia Williams
Tiny Tot Warrior Bardow Lewis

Incoming Royalty (2012-13)
Warrior Sequoia Chargualaf
Miss Chief Seattle Days Princess Jazmine Lawrence
Junior Miss Chief Seattle Days Princess Raven Roberts
Tiny Tot Princess Quelisha Bayes
(no Tiny Tot Warrior or Junior Warrior titles were given for the 2012-13 year)

 

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